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Senate weighs total asbestos ban

March 2nd, 2007

A Senate subcommittee is currently hearing testimony on a bill that would ban all forms of asbestos in the U.S. The legislation was introduced by Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who has introduced to previous asbestos bills since 2002.

In addition to a complete ban on asbestos-containing products within two years, the bill would also fund more research into ways to treat asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lungs, chest or abdomen.

The bill would require the federal government to better educate the public about the risks of asbestos exposure. Sen. Murray says that consumers are often unaware that many of the products they use—including brake pads, fire-resistant clothing and roofing tiles—contain asbestos, placing them at risk for a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Sen. Murray says that the U.S. should follow the lead of the more than 30 countries which have already banned asbestos in order to reduce the 10,000 asbestos-related deaths that occur in the U.S. each year. “I’ve been at this for six years, this is my third bill, and I know we cannot wait another year to fix this problem,” she says. “The stakes are just too high.”

As part of the hearings, the Senate heard testimony from Sue Vento, the widow of former Minnesota Congressman Bruce Vento, who died of mesothelioma in 2000. Vento called for senators to pass the bill to prevent more mesothelioma deaths and to correct the mistaken beliefs of many Americans that asbestos has already been banned.

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