Asbestos Deaths Result in New Legislation Designed to Reduce Risk of Exposure
Two U.S. Senators have proposed new legislation that would update and expand asbestos reporting requirements, in an effort to help Americans avoid exposure to the toxic substance, which continues to be linked to cases of mesothelioma and other serious health problems decades after new use of the product was banned in the United States.
Last month, Senators Edward J. Markey, of Massachusetts, and Dick Durbin, of Illinois, introduced the Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act, which proposes an update to the 1988 Asbestos Information Act. The bill would require companies involved in the use of asbestos to regularly update information on known asbestos locations.
The READ Act, if approved, would require annual reports to the EPA by companies who make, import or use asbestos-containing products. The original Asbestos Database Act only had a one-time, initial reporting requirement for the Federal Register which predated the internet, the senators said in a press release.
Asbestos is a highly fibrous substance, which has been linked to a number of serious health problems, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Although most uses of asbestos has been banned for nearly 30 years, the Senators note that there the substances remains in many older homes and buildings. In addition, many of the health problems linked to asbestos are not diagnosed until decades after exposure, causing the cancer to be at a very advanced stage by the time it is discovered, resulting in a very short life-expectancy.
According to information from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are an estimated 107,000 deaths worldwide every year linked to asbestos exposure.
“Asbestos exposure remains a serious public health threat, with at least 10,000 Americans dying each year from asbestos-related illnesses,” Heather White, Executive Director of the Environmental Working Group and the EWG Action Fund, said in the press release. “Senator Durbin’s plan would give concerned citizens valuable information that they can use to avoid coming into contact with this lethal substance.”
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Litigation
Abestos injury lawsuits are the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a case against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or other related injuries that were allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos and breathing asbestos fibers. It is a lethal disease that is often at a very advanced stage when a diagnosis is made, resulting in a very short life-expectancy.
In addition to claims for workers exposed to asbestos in the course of her employment, in recent years there have been a growing number of secondary exposure mesothelioma cases have been brought on behalf of spouses, children and other family members alleging they developed the disease after breathing asbestos fibers brought home in the hair or on the clothing of individuals who worked directly with the material.
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