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April 1 Kicks Off National Asbestos Awareness Week

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A bipartisan resolution passed by the United States Senate designates the first week of April as National Asbestos Awareness Week. The resolution, authored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and passed by Unanimous Consent, puts the Senate on record as recognizing the threats asbestos still poses to the American people, even though significant steps have been taken to reduce use of and exposure to the deadly substance.

“We owe it to those who suffer from the devastating impacts of this silent killer to ensure they know they are not alone in this fight to raise awareness about the risks of asbestos,” said Senator Markey. “This resolution will help educate people about asbestos-related illness and disease and support efforts for its prevention, detection and treatment.”

Linda Reinstein, the president and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, applauded the Senate’s action, saying “We are extremely pleased to have such strong bipartisan backing of this critical resolution once again so that we can continue our concerted efforts to educate the public on the dangers of asbestos and build a legacy of hope for victims of asbestos each year.”

The text of the resolution can be found here.

Unfortunately, at least one member of the Senate, Arizona’s junior Senator Jeff Flake, has authored legislation at the behest of industry that would erect substantial roadblocks for victims of asbestos-related disease seeking compensation through the asbestos trusts.

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act or FACT Act (S.357) would, among other things, require the trusts to issue quarterly reports that would only serve to drain the trusts’ resources, ensuring that victims would collect even less. These reports would also publicly disclose personal information about the individuals seeking compensation.

Asbestos companies could ask for any additional information related to victims’ claims at any time, resulting in endless unnecessary paperwork that would only further burden the trusts.

An identical version of Flake’s proposal was introduced in the House by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tx.); also a darling of the Tea Party.

“While this plan would protect the asbestos industry, it would likely run out the clock on many victims who will die before receiving their just compensation,” said Alex Formuzis, VP for strategic campaigns at EWG Action Fund. “In the spirit of Asbestos Awareness Week and on behalf of the victims and their families, Congress should reject this proposal.”

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