Oregon Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici met at a Bethany fire station March 21 to talk about the continuing dangers of asbestos with an invited panel of Oregon labor leaders. The two are reintroducing a bill that would ban the manufacturing, processing, use, and distribution of asbestos, which is a known human carcinogen with no safe level of exposure. Some uses of asbestos are already banned, but the substance still occasionally shows up in baby powder and cosmetics, and the Centers for Disease Control reports that asbestos-related deaths are on the rise. Fire fighters and roofers are among those exposed when asbestos-containing products are disturbed or removed.
“Most people are mystified by this bill,” Merkley said. “It’s really still legal to import and distribute asbestos?”
The House version of the bill has 31 co-sponsors, and the Senate version has 13, all Democrats, including Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Ron Wyden.