(TRENTON) – Asbestos is a real and oft-forgotten danger in the United States, taking the lives of as many as 15,000 Americans every year. Assembly Democrats Lisa Swain, Robert Karabinchak and Britnee Timberlake, however, are taking action to protect the health of New Jerseyans through their bill prohibiting the sale and distribution of products containing asbestos, which was advanced by the full Assembly 76-0-0 Monday to gain final legislative approval.
“There is absolutely no reason why any New Jerseyans should be at risk of asbestos exposure,” said Swain (D-Bergen/Passaic). “While the current Administration in Washington may be okay with rolling back environmental health standards that protect so many Americans, here in New Jersey we are not, and this bill ensures we will stay proactive in protecting our residents.”
The bill (A-4416) would bar any individual from selling or disseminating any product which contains asbestos in New Jersey. Anyone who violates the tenets of the bill would be subject to a fine of up to $2,500. The bill would also allow the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to seek an injunction against the violator.
“It is our responsibility to best protect the health of our residents,” said Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). “It is time we say no to this outdated material in New Jersey. No one should ever be exposed to harmful toxins.”
“It makes no sense to allow any unnecessary risk to the residents of New Jersey,” said Timberlake (D-Essex/Passaic). “We can’t allow the interests of big companies and corporations supersede the health of our constituents.”
The introduction of this bill is in response to a recent move made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics to allow for the manufacture of new products containing asbestos in a case-by-case basis. This move was made despite the overwhelming evidence showing that asbestos exposure increases the risk of developing lung diseases, including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
The bill originally cleared the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on September 17, the full Senate on February 21 and now heads to the Governor’s desk.