Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

Thousands of Americans Dying from Asbestos Disease Each Year

August 5, 2013

Washington, DC Each year, an estimated 10,000 Americans die from asbestos-related disease: 3,000 from mesothelioma, 5,000 from lung cancer, and 2,000 from other cancers or respiratory diseases. Between 2000 and 2010, 43,464 Americans died from mesothelioma and asbestosis--- just two of the leading asbestos-caused diseases.

"One life lost to a preventable asbestos-caused disease is tragic," President and Co-Founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), Linda Reinstein said in a statement. "Hundreds of thousands of lives lost is unconscionable."

Recently, Reinstein testified before a US Senate Committee convened to hear expert testimony on asbestos use in the US. Despite the ever increasing number of deaths attributable to asbestos disease, the steady stream of asbestos lawsuits, and increased public awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure, the deadly carcinogen continues to be used in the US.

In her speech, Reinstein discussed how the specific Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform under consideration through the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2013" (S. 696) is critically flawed and jeopardizes public health and the environment. Her testimony examined the need to expedite action to prohibit imports, and ban the manufacture, sale and export of asbestos-containing products, while protecting each state’s ability to maintain or pass stronger laws to regulate chemicals.

Reinstein also discussed the facts about the continued use of lethal asbestos in the US, with ports in the states of Louisiana, Texas, California and New Jersey still actively receiving and unloading asbestos shipments. Reinstein referenced the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) report that states that US asbestos consumption in 2012 was estimated to be 1,060 tons. In the past two years, the nation has seen an increase in asbestos consumption in the chlor-alkali industry specifically, even though viable and affordable asbestos substitutes exist.

"Most Americans trust that their air, soil and water are safe from toxic contaminants; however, the Toxic Substances Control Act has failed to protect public health and our environment," according to Ms. Reinstein's testimony. "Asbestos fibers are odorless, tasteless, indestructible, and can be nearly 700 times smaller than a human hair. All forms of asbestos can cause cancer and respiratory diseases. Americans have lost confidence in the chemical industries' ability to protect us from toxins. Congress should draft and pass meaningful TSCA reform legislation that truly strengthens protections for our families and environment by preventing the further use of asbestos."