Federal bill would improve public information about asbestos

Bill proposes setting up a database to track asbestos products entering the U.S.

Most Americans know that asbestos is a highly dangerous substance that can cause life threatening health conditions, such as mesothelioma. However, many Americans would likely be shocked to discover that asbestos has not been banned in the United States and that products containing asbestos are regularly imported into the country. Now, according to The Hill, a federal bill has been introduced that would increase public knowledge of asbestos products and create an online database so the public can better inform itself about potential asbestos exposure.

READ Act

The proposed legislation is called the Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act and is an update to the Asbestos Information Act that was passed into law in 1988. The proposed bill would increase the amount of information manufacturers, processors, and importers of asbestos-containing products are required to report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The READ Act would require disclosure of how the products are to be used and where their final destination in the U.S. is.

Perhaps most importantly, the READ Act would set up a database that would be publicly available. Therefore, people could search online to find out whether any asbestos-containing product has made its way into the places where they live, work, or study.

Database overdue

Proponents of the READ Act note that the original Asbestos Information Act was created in an era before the Internet was widely available. While the 1988 law also requires manufacturers and processors to supply the EPA with some information about their products, that information was published in the Federal Register, which most Americans are unlikely to go to the trouble of looking up. The READ Act, by creating an online database, would make such information more easily available.

As Asbestos.com recently reported, another asbestos-related bill was also introduced recently, the Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act, which goes even further than the READ Act by trying to ban asbestos in the United States outright. According to the World Health Organization, over 107,000 people die every year because of exposure to asbestos at work. In the United States, asbestos-related illnesses cause 10,000 deaths annually.

Asbestos exposure

As the above article shows, despite being widely known as a dangerous product, asbestos continues to appear regularly in buildings and products that people use everyday. The damage caused by asbestos exposure includes not just the pain to victims themselves, but to their families who may be left without a loved one or may end up having to cope with costly medical bills.

Anybody who has suffered because of potential asbestos exposure should contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in asbestos-related cases. Such an attorney can advise asbestos victims of their legal rights and about what potential compensation may be available to them.