Mesothelioma was a top concern voiced by Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana this week. Tester is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and his comments came during a question-and-answer session with new EPA Administrator Michael Regan on better asbestos regulation and the potential for an asbestos ban.
Senator Tester Notes Mesothelioma Deaths in Montana During Hearing
Senator Tester takes particular interest in asbestos regulation, as his state has been significantly impacted by mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. In his dialogue with Regan he spoke to the many years of asbestos exposure that Lincoln County, Montana was subjected to, saying, “Up in Libby they’ve been struggling with it…we’ve done some good work up there, but there’s a lot more work to be done.”
Making no secret of his intent in having legacy asbestos regulated and asbestos taken off of the market, Tester noted the tens of thousands of asbestos-related deaths in the United States, and used an example of a Libby man who had lost 18-20% of his lung capacity from mesothelioma after growing up in the shadow of the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine.
EPA Administrator Grilled Over Asbestos Regulation
Though mesothelioma advocates had hoped that asbestos would be banned under the Toxic Substance Control Act signed into law by former President Barack Obama, the Trump administration took a far friendlier view of the mineral and was slow to respond to requests for greater regulation. Tester asked Regan about the new administration’s stance, saying, “Do you believe that the EPA has the authority under TSCA (Toxic Substance Control Act) to regulate legacy issues of asbestos?” Regan responded by saying, “I do… It is one of the top ten [substances] that we’re looking and doing a risk evaluation to determine what regulatory action we should take as it regards to asbestos.”
Tester, who leads the move to pass the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act to permanently outlaw asbestos then asked, “Based on that evaluation, you should probably be able to tell me whether asbestos is going to remain on the market, or go off the market. Is that a fair assessment?” to which Regan responded, “Once we make that determination of how we regulate it, we’ll be able to answer that question for you.”
As mesothelioma victims continue to hope that asbestos use will be banned entirely, they also need support in their own individual struggles. If you need assistance, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.