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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, the United States Senate unanimously passed Senator Patty Murray's bill to ban asbestos, bringing the legislation closMurray, Isakson, Boxer Celebrate Senate Passage of Asbestos Biller to enactment than at any point since Murray launched her effort to protect families and workers six years ago.  Murray worked closely with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Environment and Public Works Chairman Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to reach this historic milestone.

"This is a historic day in the fight to protect Americans.  Workers and their families deserve a future free of deadly asbestos exposure, and I'm not stopping until this bill is signed into law," Murray said.  "I’m very pleased that Senators from both sides of the aisle came together to unanimously support my bill. I especially want to thank Senator Johnny Isakson for his bipartisan leadership in moving this bill forward.  I also want to commend Senator Barbara Boxer who championed this bill from the start and led its quick passage through her Environment and Public Works Committee."

“It was a pleasure to work with Senator Murray on crafting this legislation. This bill is the culmination of months of bipartisan work to find common ground on this important issue, and I extremely pleased the Senate acted so quickly to approve it,” Isakson said. “For the few areas where asbestos is still used in the United States, this bill provides a reasonable transition so that Americans can rid themselves of asbestos once and for all.” 

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said:  “Because of this bill, America is poised to join the more than 40 nations that have banned asbestos because it is deadly.  This bill is long overdue.”

“I have been pleased to work closely with Senators Murray and Isakson to move this important bill through the Environment and Public Works Committee, and now through the Senate. This bill will take asbestos off the shelves, and will also ensure we continue to study and treat the health effects asbestos has already caused.”

Murray's bill would ban asbestos, invest in research and treatment, and launch a public education campaign.  Murray started working to ban asbestos six years ago.  This March, she re-introduced her legislation as S. 742, the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007


Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007

Bill Summary


Prohibits the importation, manufacture, processing and distribution of products containing asbestos.  The ban covers the 6 regulated forms of asbestos and 3 durable fibers.  The EPA will issue rules to ensure asbestos products are off the shelves within 2 years of the bill's enactment.

2.  Dramatically Expands Research and Treatment

Creates a $50 million "Asbestos-Related Disease Research and Treatment Network"
The network will be composed of 10 new research and treatment centers around the country. Locations will be selected by the director of NIH.  The network will focus on finding better treatment, early detection and prevention strategies.  Funded at $50 million ($1 million per center per year for 5 years). [Section 417F]

Creates a New National Asbestos-Related Disease Registry
Expands on the existing mesothelioma disease registry to include patients with other asbestos-related diseases.  This national clearinghouse for data will help scientists conduct more comprehensive research. [Section 417E(c)]

Directs the Department of Defense to Conduct Additional Research
About one-third of mesothelioma victims were exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy. The bill directs the Pentagon to conduct additional research on asbestos disease, early detection and treatment. [Section 417G]

Identifies the Most Promising Areas for New Research
Directs the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to study the current state of knowledge on asbestos disease mechanisms, health effects, and measurement methods.  NIOSH will recommend the areas where new research is most needed. [Section 222]

3.  Launches a Public Education Campaign TO PROTECT AMERICANS

The EPA Administrator shall conduct a public education campaign to increase awareness of the dangers posed by asbestos-containing products and contaminant-asbestos products, including in homes and workplaces.  Patients and front-line health care providers will receive current and comprehensive information about disease awareness and treatment options.  The EPA will work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Secretary of Labor, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on this public education campaign. [Section 224] 


 A Thank You From Senator Murray

Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, In the nearly seven years that I have worked to pass the Ban Asbestos in America Act, I have been aided by so many dedicated and driven individuals without whom this day would not have been possible. I want to take a minute to thank them for all they have done.

I would like to begin by thanking my entire personal staff who have taken on this fight with me. Over seven years many of them have come and gone, but I know they are all very proud today because each and every one of them, in their own unique way, has helped this effort along. 

In particular I would like to thank Bill Kamela who, as the head of my HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, has carried the torch on this issue for so many years. Bill has sat with me in countless meetings reassuring widows, clearing legislative hurdles, and pledging to all to make this ban a reality. Bill's hard work and expertise have been essential to making this possible. I would also like to thank Anna Knudson, a former member of my staff who had the vision and passion to begin this effort.

I would like to thank Bill's hard working staff Crystal Bridgeman, Mike Waske, and Janice Camp who lent their know-how and support to this effort at a critical juncture. 

I would like to thank Alex Glass and my entire press office for their work in spreading the word about the importance of this effort. And I would like to thank Pete Weissman who recently left my office but whose words often helped drive home the urgency of this effort. I would also like to thank Mike Spahn who worked with me on the Senate floor to guide this bill to passage

I also want to recognize and thank Dr. Barry Castleman, Chris Hahn from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, MaryAnne Dunlap from Senator Inhofe's office, Ed Egee from Senator Isakson's office, Linda Reinstein from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, Dr. Aubrey Miller, Dr. Greg Meeker, Dr. Richard Lemen, Dr. Mike Harbut, Dr. Harvey Pass, Andrew Schneider of the Seattle PI, and Matt Bergman.

I also want to say that it has been a pleasure to work with Senator Isakson's staff, the staff from EPW and Senator Boxer's staff.

It takes a lot of people to get something done. A tremendous amount of people have worked on this. I thank them. Because of their work, we are going to ban asbestos, we are going to dramatically expand research and treatment, and we are going to launch a public education campaign so all Americans understand how they can protect themselves from the deadly asbestos products that may be in their home.