House Bill Would Ban Asbestos After Trump Deregulated It
Imports of the deadly substance are up 2,000% thanks to Trump
Although the health dangers of asbestos have been known for years, it is still legal to import and use the dangerous substance in the United States. However, a bill in Congress would change that and protect workers from across the country.
The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019, also known as HR 1603, is a bill that would ban the importation and use of asbestos, convert technology that uses the product to non-asbestos products, create a right to know for US consumers that would inform them about how much asbestos is in products, and would study the risks presented by legacy asbestos that resides in millions of buildings and homes in the United States.
Asbestos was used in building materials in the United States through the 1970’s when it was found to cause asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma. Additionally, it can still be found in some cosmetics, including ones sold to tweens and teens at stores like Claire’s and Justice. Close to 40,000 American’s die annually of asbestos related diseases. Many of those who die are construction workers, although many in New York are now sick with asbestos related diseases due to 9/11.
Under Trump the EPA has moved to weaken regulations on asbestos. Trump has spoken out for years against restrictions saying in his 1997 book, The Art of the Comeback, that the regulation of asbestos was a "mob-created conspiracy.”
"I believe that the movement against asbestos was led by the mob because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal," Trump wrote in his book. "Great pressure was put on politicians, and as usual, the politicians relented."
Trump also claimed in a 2012 tweet that if asbestos hadn’t been removed from the World Trade Center, the building wouldn’t have collapsed.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2012
Although the South Tower was never built with asbestos, the North Tower did have upwards of 300 to 400 tons of the chemical when it was built and tests of the air after the attack confirmed that much of that was still in the building in 2001. Trump’s support for asbestos is so great that at least one company, the Russian mining company Uralabest, began stamping their asbestos-related products with Trump’s face and a message saying “Approved by Donald Trump.” According to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and Environmental Working Group imports of asbestos have increased 2,000% since Trump took over.
“It’s outrageous that in the year 2019, asbestos is still allowed in the United States,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “While the EPA fiddles, Americans are dying. It’s time for us to catch up to the rest of the developed world, and ban this dangerous public health threat once and for all.”
A companion bill is currently in the Senate and has accumulated 14 Democratic sponsors.