Montana, The Last Best Place, home to Yellowstone and Glacier, grizzly bears, bison, and endless blue skies, is also home to one of the largest man-made asbestos disasters in the nation.
Once ARBAN passes the House, Senator Daines plans to partner with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley to introduce an amended version of Senator Merkley’s Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act. In a time of unprecedented divisiveness in American politics, this collaboration across party lines to protect public health is something to celebrate. When passed, it would ban the manufacturing, processing, use, and distribution of asbestos within a year. Vitally important, it will ban the Libby amphibole that caused the pain and disease in Libby, bringing true protection to Montanans and all Americans. Asbestos exposure is like the wild west. The virtually invisible fibers can’t be easily seen with the naked eye and avoiding exposure is nearly impossible. There is overwhelming scientific consensus that asbestos is a carcinogen and there is no safe or controlled use, yet some companies continue to put profits over people’s health. The chlor-alkali industry, which produces industrial chlorine and caustic soda, insists on using asbestos in its production process even though safer alternatives to asbestos are available and are used in other countries. Just last year, the chlor-alkali industry doubled its asbestos imports to the U.S. — sourced primarily from Brazilian and Russian mines. To read the rest of the op-ed, please visit this link in The Montana Standard.
Linda Reinstein is the President of the nonprofit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. Heather White is a resident of Bozeman and is president of Heather White Strategies, LLC, a management consulting firm for nonprofits, foundations, and businesses.