Sen. Durbin Aims to Create National Asbestos Database

While it is now common knowledge asbestos can lead to a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma, many people do not realize how prevalent asbestos use was during much of the last two centuries and how likely they are to encounter asbestos in the course of their daily lives.

u-s--capitol-building-918333-m.jpgAccording to a recent news report from The Hill, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois Is pushing for national asbestos reporting requirements. Durbin’s new bill, titled The Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ), would require establishment of a national asbestos registry.

Specifically, READ aims to modernize the seemingly outdated asbestos reporting requirements already in existence though the use of an online database, which is easily searchable by the general public. Durbin’s READ act would also require the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to maintain the new database.

In a press release accompanying his newly proposed piece of legislation, Durbin states that each year, far too many Americans are forced to suffer the deadly consequences of asbestos exposure. As our Boston mesothelioma injury attorneys have seen all too often, families have been devastated by the painful and deadly medical condition known as mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a form of terminal cancer, which is extremely rare in patients who have not been exposed to asbestos. It is so rare that doctors can generally say, to a near certainty, a patient’s mesothelioma disease was due to residential or occupational exposure to asbestos.

The current reporting requirements were established in the Asbestos Information Act, which then-President Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1988. This act only requires manufacturers and producers of asbestos-containing materials to provide the EPA notice via a single report with no continued reporting requirements. This information is then published in a federal register, which is not easily accessible to members of the general public. It should also be noted, the terms producer and manufacturer are narrowly defined in such a way that serves to further limit reporting requirements. Some regulations only mandate producers make a report to the EPA if their products contain a certain percentage of asbestos-based material, and these threshold limits are not necessarily in line with health risks to workers and consumers due to asbestos exposure. Another issue with this law deals with vermiculite. Vermiculite is a mineral similar to asbestos, but it often contains some quantity of asbestos. In some cases, vermiculite is not considered asbestos for EPA regulations, despite causing essentially the same health risks.

While asbestos was largely shunned by the early 1980s, asbestos-containing products are still being produced and sold within the United States and it is estimated more than 10,000 Americans are dying from asbestos-related illness each year.

Durbin believes the READ act, if enacted into law, would give citizens a realistic way to see what products still contain asbestos and give potential victims a chance to avoid unknowing asbestos exposure during their daily lives.

It is not yet known if this new bill will receive necessary support in Congress to make it to the President’s desk to be signed into law, and it is likely those still profiting from asbestos will spend considerable amounts of money to fight it.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

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