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This Powerful U.S. Bill Could Change the Asbestos Industry Landscape Forever

This Powerful U.S. Bill Could Change the Asbestos Industry Landscape Forever

Straight Talk about Mesothelioma, a blog series created by Michael T. Milano, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncology specialist, as a resource for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones.

Did you know that asbestos can still be found in products in the United States? Many people presume that the dangerous substance had been banned in the U.S. after asbestos exposure was determined to be the leading cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that has an average survival rate of 1 year following diagnosis. While asbestos is no longer mined in the United States, it is still found in many U.S. products, homes, schools, office buildings, and other work places.

A bill introduced to Congress on March 10, 2015 seeks to make this information more transparent, by providing Americans and their families with a database of information about where, and in what products, asbestos can be found.

The Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database Act of 2015 (READ Act) was introduced by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and co-sponsored by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA). Companion legislation was also introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Gene Green (TX-29) on April 27, 2015.

The READ Act was designed to update the Asbestos Information Act which was passed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Now, nearly 30 years later, the update is desperately needed. While this earlier Act was an important first step to protect Americans against the dangers of asbestos, the law only required a one-time reporting requirement, which was then published in the Federal Register. Because the law came before the Internet, consumers couldn’t go online to access this information, which made the asbestos data virtually inaccessible.

The READ Act Lists 18 Common U.S. Products in which Asbestos Is Found

The READ Act, however, would display information about asbestos usage in a searchable online database. Additionally, the READ Act requires those who manufacture, import, or handle asbestos-containing products to annually report information about their products and any public location where these products may have been located for the past year to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The READ Act even lists 18 common asbestos-containing products that are not banned in the U.S., including:

  1. Cement corrugated sheets
  2. Cement flat sheets
  3. Clothing
  4. Pipeline wraps
  5. Roofing felt
  6. Vinyl floor tile
  7. Cement shingle
  8. Millboard
  9. Cement pipe
  10. Automatic transmission components
  11. Clutch facings
  12. Friction materials
  13. Disc brake pads
  14. Drum brake linings
  15. Brake blocks
  16. Gaskets
  17. Non-roofing coatings
  18. Roof coatings

Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-linked cancers kill more than 107,000 people worldwide every single year. The READ Act’s ultimate aim is to change this number by making people more aware of where asbestos can be found. Linda Reinstein, President of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is a strong supporter of the Act. “For more than a century, asbestos exposure has been known to cause debilitating diseases and deaths,” stated Reinstein. “Worse yet, most Americans cannot identify asbestos or manage the risk. Undoubtedly, the READ Act will save lives and dollars,” she continued.

In addition to publicizing the use of asbestos, the READ Act would also undoubtedly encourage companies to curb their use of asbestos. No company wants to be known as a distributor or manufacturer of dangerous products. If an easy-to-access database exists where consumers can quickly go online and confirm if a company produces asbestos-tainted products, it stands to reason that companies will start to limit their use of asbestos and develop alternative asbestos-free products over time.

How Can You Help in The Fight Against Asbestos?

Take the time to write to your Senators and Representatives and encourage them to support the READ Act. It is legislation that truly aims to take a bite out of the asbestos industry by making the public aware of products and locations that utilize asbestos. Ultimately, the Act will help Americans can make informed choices when it comes to asbestos exposure.

Taking the time to notify your elected officials about your support of measures that seek to regulate the use of asbestos can have a significant impact on how they will vote on a bill, especially in an election year.

Dr. Milano is a sponsored contributor to Mesothelioma Help Now.