The United States Senate has unanimously passed S.Res 145 establishing “National Asbestos Awareness Week” for the 16th time. April 1, 2021 through April 7, 2021 is now devoted to raising national awareness of the continued presence of this dangerous material and the need for vigilance. The bipartisan resolution was championed by Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and cosponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Dick Durbin (D-IL). While asbestos has had a terrible effect on working people of all states, Sens. Tester and Daines’s state of Montana is home to the town of Libby which was devastated by the asbestos contamination of a vermiculite mine there.
The resolution’s preamble recognizes the insidious nature of asbestos as a cause of respiratory disease and various cancers including mesothelioma which take many years after exposure to develop. It cites the ubiquitous use of asbestos in construction products and industry through the twentieth century, the fact that much of that asbestos persists in place, and surprisingly, that asbestos continues to be used in the United States. In fact, the United States government reports that in 2020 the country imported 300 metric tons of asbestos for use in products. This is a 30 percent increase over 2019 imports. Thousands of Americans die each year from asbestos-related disease.
Linda Reinstein, co-founder and president of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), applauded the establishment of the National Asbestos Awareness Week, saying, “We are grateful to Congress for passing this resolution and once again putting the dangers of asbestos exposure on the national radar, but we must do more.” The ADAO has been a strong supporter of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amended the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), and has been active in encouraging the EPA to faithfully exercise its authority under the Act to issue an accurate and responsible risk evaluation report.
This sixteenth National Asbestos Awareness Week continues Congress’s recognition of the continued asbestos hazard which the ADAO promotes through the “Global Asbestos Awareness Week” it has hosted since 2005. The Thornton Law Firm supports these efforts to raise awareness of the persistent hazards related to in place asbestos as well as the inexplicable continued use of this insidious material.