The Lautenberg Act, a powerful bill aimed at identifying and regulating toxic substances, has finally been signed into law. President Obama signed The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act this June with overwhelming bi-partisan support. Named after former U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, the legislation introduced to Congress over a year ago is an update to the existing Toxic Substance Control Act that governs the use of toxic chemicals, including asbestos.
The Lautenberg Act essentially gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more strength in the regulation of dangerous substances, hopefully paving the way for a permanent ban on asbestos in the future. Its durability to withstand chemical reactions made asbestos the primary choice for many industrial uses at one time. Asbestos was once a standard material in the production of building materials like shingles, automotive parts, cement, and textiles. Its use has declined since the 1970s when it was determined to be highly toxic to humans.
Asbestos is now classified as a human carcinogen, with exposure to asbestos leading to lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the thin lining protecting the lungs, heart, or abdomen, and is caused when asbestos fibers are swallowed or inhaled. Approximately 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. Since mesothelioma symptoms can take up to 50 years to present themselves, the use of asbestos decades ago may still be problematic for many people today. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, though promising treatments are in development.
Mesothelioma is only believed to be caused by exposure to asbestos. The European Union, Australia, and Japan have all banned the use of asbestos in construction projects, yet the U.S. continues to permit it for uses including clothing, vinyl tiles and roofing materials. Asbestos industry groups have fought past legislation to ban asbestos and will likely continue to do so. The Lautenberg Act empowers the EPA to regulate the use of new and existing chemicals primarily on the basis of human health and safety. This new environmental protection law will hopefully overcome previous obstacles and lead to a ban on known toxic substances like the carcinogenic asbestos.
The Environmental Protection Agency is working towards a ban on asbestos. However, your exposure to asbestos on the job decades ago may have already led to health problems. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, our Philadelphia asbestos lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler will advocate for you. Call our Philadelphia offices at 215-569-4000 or 800-369-0899 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.