San Pedro, CA – Aug. 1, 2007 – When her bill moved by unanimous vote onto the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Patty Murray scored one of the biggest victories in the history of American public health. Asbestos, the lethal poison that has killed millions worldwide infesting homes, offices, workplaces, and schools, is one step closer to being an outlawed enemy of public health.
“This is long overdue. The extreme dangers of asbestos were known by the manufacturers for over sixty years yet they continued to utilize it with no concern for the public. Our thanks go out to Senator Murray for being at the forefront for pushing this. It’s unfortunate that so many Americans had to die. For them, it is truly too little, too late,” said Douglas Gamble, vice-president of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers.
Senator Murray’s relentless fight to bring asbestos to the brink of a public ban also earned high marks from Terry Lynch, political and legislative director of the asbestos workers’ union. “We think it’s wonderful. It’s long past due and this is certainly a step in the right direction of eliminating the incredible horrors caused by asbestos. No one knows the devastation caused by asbestos better than the members of our union.”
The asbestos workers union and its president, James A. Grogan, have strongly supported this important legislation to protect workers and the public.
The bill bans asbestos, a proven carcinogen responsible for the largest public health disaster in American history, and provides crucial funding for research to cure and treat asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma.
“The Pacific Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute strongly supports Sen. Murray’s Ban Asbestos Act. PHLBI’s programs emphasize prevention as well as treatment and research, and this sends a powerful signal about the government’s commitment to decreasing the risks of asbestos-related disease,” said Jessica Like, executive director of the institute. PHLBI’s Dr. Robert Cameron helped draft initial language for a National Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program originally included in the proposed FAIR Act.
Asbestos and mesothelioma advocacy groups, including the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, strongly supported the bill, providing testimony, expertise, and effective advocacy to support the bipartisan efforts that got the bill out of committee.
“By turning anger to action, the victims, family members, doctors, and ADAO are pleased to have taken part in this landmark effort moving us closer to banning asbestos, educating Americans about the deadly effects of asbestos, and increasing funding for necessary research. One life lost to asbestos is tragic. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost is unconscionable,” said Linda Reinstein, mesothelioma widow, co-founder and executive director of ADAO as she applauded Sen. Murray, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. James Inhofe, and Sen. Johnny Isakson for their bipartisan efforts.
“The ongoing battle against asbestos is being fought today by workers who toil in asbestos-poisoned tunnels underneath our nation’s Capitol,” she added, referring to House capitol power plant utility tunnel hearings. “Congresswoman Betty McCollum announced at today’s hearings that she would introduce a companion bill to Sen. Murray’s bipartisan Ban Asbestos in America Act this week. There truly is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Roger Worthington, an attorney and advocate who specializes in asbestos and mesothelioma litigation, said “Asbestos is the common enemy. Sen. Murray’s courageous work will help drive a stake through the heart of this killer. Even today, worldwide asbestos production has begun to uptick, as corporate greed seeks to ignore the catastrophes of the past and once again exploit Americans’ health and safety for profit. Sen. Murray’s bill will ensure that this tragedy never again occurs on U.S. soil.”