The American Public Health Association (APHA) is urging Congress to urge support of the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019, a bill to protect the public from exposure to the toxic substance.

Asbestos is a potent carcinogen. There is no safe level of exposure to it,” said APHA member Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH, a lecturer at Texas State University and George Washington University, before the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “More than 60 countries have banned asbestos because they recognize its grave risk to public health. It is long past time for the U.S. to prohibit any person or company to manufacture, import, process or distribute in commerce asbestos or any mixture or article containing asbestos.”

The legislation, H.R. 1603, would ban the manufacture, sale, export or importation of asbestos-containing products, create a right-to-know program to inform the public about the presence of asbestos in U.S. commerce and require a comprehensive study into the risks of asbestos exposure in homes, schools, workplaces and other public places.

“There is overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “Asbestos causes mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx and ovaries. Exposure to asbestos is also strongly associated with asbestosis and pleural disease.

“We urge Congress to pass this important legislation to safeguard the public from asbestos-containing products.”

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