andrew schneider investigates

February 6, 2008

Asbestos ban legislation

Filed under: Asbestos,Public health legislation — Andrew Schneider @ 16:10

Physicians, nurses, industrial hygienists, clinical scientists and others who deal with the victims of asbestos exposure are signing a petition to the House of Representatives asking members to pass an asbestos ban that will outlaw the importation and use of asbestos-containing products.

Some of those pushing the petition are the same public health leaders who testified for Sen. Patty Murray in her six-year-long effort to pass a ban. And while most say they respect the Washington State democrat and admire her efforts, the bill, SB742, doesn’t do the job.

The Nov. 5 P-I story explained how lobbyists demanded that Murray’s language � which would have ordered a complete ban on asbestos like most other countries have, was watered down to get it passed.

The Senate version would not have outlawed asbestos from vermiculite, talc, taconite and other sources of contamination. But of greater concern to many of Murray’s former witnesses are that products containing up to 1 percent asbestos are exempt from prohibition, says Dr, Michael Harbut, who is co-director, National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

“What the Senate passed would even allow asbestos fibers to be present in everything from road patch to stuffed teddy bears,” Harbut said. “How is that protecting the public health?” asked Harbut, who is chief, Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Wayne State University

The House expected to hold hearing on “a more inclusive” ban in early spring, committee staffers say.

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