Toxic Substance Champion Senator Frank Lautenberg Dies at 89

lautenbergAsbestos safety champion Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, (D-NJ), died Monday morning at the age of 89, according to The Bergen Record. He served in Congress from 1982 to 2001, and again from 2003 to the time of his death. One of his notable achievements was his unwavering effort to reform the dated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the authority to protect Americans from harmful chemicals, including mesothelioma-causing asbestos, since 2005.

Senator Lautenberg took the lead on reforming the dated TSCA to rapidly reduce exposure to toxic chemicals like asbestos, which is still used in some building and automotive materials. Asbestos fibers can be released into the air during demolition of buildings constructed with asbestos products, along highways from disintegration of brake pads, and near facilities where asbestos products are manufactured.

On April 10, 2013, the late Senator Lautenberg reintroduced the Safe Chemicals Act which was cosponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The Safe Chemicals Act would require chemical companies to demonstrate the safety of industrial chemicals and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate safety based on the best available science.

In May, Senator Lautenberg had a breakthrough when a bipartisan compromise bill, the Chemical Safety Act, was jointly unveiled with David Vitter (D-LA) was unveiled. The Chemical Safety Act would give the EPA the necessary authority to take action on unsafe chemicals, like asbestos. This can range from labeling requirements to the full phase-out or ban of a chemical. While not as stringent as the Safe Chemicals Act introduced in April, the Chemical Safety Act has support from select Republicans.

The mesothelioma community applauds Senator Lautenberg’s unfailing dedication to stand up for mesothelioma patients and champion the reform of the TSCA; and hopes that Congress will honor his legacy by passing legislation to reform the dated TSCA.

To learn more about the Safe Chemicals Act search Thomas.gov for S. 696

To learn more about the Chemical Safety Act, search Thomas.gov for S. 1009