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Murray Re-Introduces Bill to Ban Asbestos in America

May 22 2003

Bill would ban asbestos, create national disease registry, increase research

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today re-introduced her bill to ban asbestos in America.

Murray's legislation, which was first introduced in the 107th Congress, will also authorize additional studies to determine which commercial products today still contain asbestos, increase funding for asbestos-related diseases, and call for a national Mesothelioma registry to help public health professionals track this deadly disease.

"Like most Americans I thought asbestos had already been banned," Murray said. "While more than 30 other countries have banned asbestos and protected their citizens, the United States still has not. The time for the United States to ban asbestos is long overdue."

The reintroduction of Senator Murray's Ban Asbestos in America Act comes just days after the release of a landmark report commissioned by the EPA, which calls for a ban on the production, manufacture, and distribution of asbestos in the U.S.

The EPA-commissioned Asbestos Strategies report urges that a ban "be proposed by the Congress, promptly debated, and conclusively resolved."

The New York Times reported recently that more than 26 million pounds of asbestos was added to brakes, roofing materials and other products in 2001. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an estimated 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry still face significant asbestos exposure on the job.

Murray's legislation does four things:

- Requires the EPA to ban asbestos within two years;

- Requires EPA to conduct a public education campaign about the risks of asbestos products and requires EPA to conduct a survey to determine which foreign and domestic products consumed in the United States today have been made with asbestos;

- Invests in research, tracking and treatment of asbestos diseases, requires the creation of a registry to track Mesothelioma, and authorizes funding for 10 treatment centers nationwide to improve treatments for and awareness of this fatal cancer;

- Calls for the National Academy of Sciences, along with the EPA's Blue Ribbon Panel, to study issues beyond the six regulated forms of asbestos.

Murray was joined by Congressional co-sponsors, asbestos victim advocates, and Lt. Colonel Jim Zumwalt, son of the late Admiral Elmo Zumwalt – who died from Mesothelioma – an asbestos-related cancer – in 2000, to reintroduce her bill.

"I hope that by continuing to work together – and through the positive steps we’ve seen by the EPA in the past few days – we will build support for the Ban Asbestos in America Act and we will get this important bill passed this year," Murray said.

Senators Jeffords (I-VT), Leahy (D-VT), Cantwell (D-WA), Boxer (D-CA), Baucus (D-MT) and Dayton (D-MN) are all Senate co-sponsors of Murray’s legislation.