Two Former EPA Administrators Pen Anti-Asbestos Op-Ed

In a move that will hearten victims of malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, former Environmental Protection Administration Administrators Gina McCarty and William K. Reilly have penned an op-ed in today’s New York Times urging Congress to ban asbestos in the United States.

Former administrators decry lack of EPA action

The article’s message is far from subtle. Titled, “Asbestos Kills Nearly 40,000 Americans a Year. Ban It,” the authors detail the history of American efforts to bank the carcinogenic material responsible for so many American deaths, including roughly 3,500 from malignant mesothelioma. They detail their own struggles to end the use of asbestos in the United States, as well as the hopes they’d had for the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act that was passed into law in 2016.

McCarty and Reilly write that despite the passage of that law, which gave the EPA  the authority to take action against asbestos and other harmful chemicals, “the current EPA is simply not going to do its job and ban asbestos.” They go on to urge congress to pass the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Act, which bans all asbestos importation and use, with no exemptions.

 Asbestos industry lawsuit overturned previous ban

When asbestos was first discovered to be the cause of mesothelioma and other illnesses, the EPA created a seven-year timeline for its ban under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), but the asbestos industry challenged the law and it was overturned. In 2016 congress passed the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act and President Obama signed it into law, but since then the EPA under President Trump has rendered the law “toothless.” 

As the op-ed describes, “It excluded from consideration important pathways of exposure and uses. For example, the agency refused to address asbestos that remains installed in millions of homes from construction materials used in the 1950s, 60s and 70s; would not consider the exposure of firefighters when they enter burning buildings containing asbestos; and disregarded the presence of asbestos contamination in children’s products like crayons. It failed to take into account scientific information on certain types of cancers clearly linked to asbestos, including ovarian cancer; colorectal cancer; and cancers of the stomach, esophagus, larynx and pharynx.”

As the former administrators urge congress to pass the needed legislation that will finally ban asbestos, mesothelioma victims and others affected by asbestos-related disease continue their fight against the illnesses caused by the toxic substance. For information on how we can help, contact’s Patient Advocates at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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