Since asbestos has been discovered to be hazardous to the public’s health, lawmakers have been torn over whether to ban or simply regulate its use. Over the decades, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued rulings over asbestos, but attempts to ban the hazardous material have been continuously rejected. However, a recent bill known as the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act aims to finalize a ban against the harmful substance.
What Are the Objectives of the ARBAN Act?
In 2017, a coalition of senators – including Bernie Sanders, Dianne Feinstein, and Jeff Merkley – co-sponsored a bill to ban the importation of asbestos. The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now (ARBAN) Act – named for a 66-year-old man who passed from mesothelioma – aims to fulfill the following objectives:
- Ban Asbestos Importation: Within one year of passing the bill, it would ban the importation and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products entirely.
- Revise the Right-to-Know Program: All current importers, processors, and distributors will be required to publicly disclose how much asbestos is in their products, why it’s used, and the level of health risk within the preceding three years of the act’s approval.
- EPA Re-Evaluation: The EPA would be required to draft a report assessing the presence of asbestos in residential, commercial, and public buildings and the threat to public health.
Additional objectives are listed in the bill’s official documentation. The ARBAN Act is designed to be an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act, which initially introduced stricter asbestos regulations.
Where Does the Act Stand Now?
The ARBAN Act passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee in November of 2019 by an overwhelming vote of 47 to 1. As a result of this vote, it can now be presented to the House of Representatives. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it very difficult to pass legislation in the preceding months. Nevertheless, Linda Reinstein, the widow of the gentleman for which the act is named, believes the bill will pass the House and Congress by the end of the year. Due to asbestos’s severe impact on health, her hope is this act will save countless lives.
While the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act has not yet reached the House, the preliminary vote shows that it’s receiving bipartisan support from politicians – a positive sign for the future. However, even if or when the act is passed, it doesn’t change the fact that asbestos still contaminates several U.S. households and buildings. Fiber Control, Inc. has decades of first-hand experience remediating and removing asbestos and other hazardous materials, so if you’re concerned you may be at risk, it’s important you contact us today.