Proposal Aims to Help Americans Spot Asbestos Products

March 10, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Legislation introduced today by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill) would set up a federal online database of information about products that contain asbestos and where those items are likely to be found.

The Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act (S. 700) would require all those who manufacture, import or handle the deadly substance to report annually to the Environmental Protection Agency about their “products and any publicly-accessible location in which the products have been known to be present in the past year.”

“Asbestos exposure remains a serious public health threat, with at least 10,000 Americans dying each year from asbestos-related illnesses,” said Heather White, Executive Director of the EWG Action Fund. “Senator Durbin’s plan would give concerned citizens valuable information that they can use to avoid coming into contact with this lethal substance.”

The legislation is a much-needed amendment to the federal Asbestos Information Act signed into law in 1998 by President Reagan. That law required companies that used asbestos to submit similar information for publication in the Federal Register, but they had to report only once. Moreover, most Americans cannot search the relatively obscure government journal with ease.

“The online, searchable database contemplated by the Durbin bill would, for the first time, give people a comprehensive view into where they may find asbestos-laden products,” White said. “For instance, if you know that your siding likely contains embedded asbestos, then you can take steps to make sure nobody saws or rips it and releases deadly asbestos fibers. Disturbing asbestos-laden construction materials takes special training and equipment.”

Durbin’s introduction of the READ Act coincides with the EWG Action Fund’s launch of its national public education campaign, Asbestos Nation. This initiative will use research, advocacy and online activism to shine a light on the continuing threat of asbestos to millions of Americans. EWG Action Fund is a separate sister organization of EWG.

The Asbestos Nation campaign is funded by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) to educate the public, conduct original research and advocate for strong policy reform to protect people from the ongoing dangers of asbestos exposure.

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