Banning Asbestos in New Jersey
On October 29, 2018, a bill (Assembly, No. 4416) to prohibit the sale or distribution of asbestos-containing products was adopted by the New Jersey Assembly.1 The draft legislation is categorical about the need to protect citizens from the asbestos hazard, stating:
Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing lung disease. In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects, such as: lung cancer; mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart; and asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs.
The bill presented by Assemblywoman Lisa Swain and co-sponsored by fellow Democrats Robert Karabinchak, Britnee Timberlake, Gordon Johnson, Nancy Pinkin, Paul Moriarty, Angela McKnight, and Gary Schaer was unanimously adopted by 77:02; on September 9, 2018 it had been referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee and on September 17, 2018 it had been reported out of the Committee after its 2nd reading 3
The reasons for the unilateral action by a State Assembly on a matter that is generally regarded to be under the purview of the federal government are explained as follows in the bill:
The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently adopted a new rule that may allow the manufacture of new products containing asbestos on a case-by-case basis. Due to the well-known and devastating health effects of exposure to asbestos, it is appropriate for this State to act to prohibit the sale or distribution of products containing asbestos in the State.
Commenting on her motivation for introducing this draft legislation, Assemblywoman Swain said:
There is absolutely no reason why any New Jerseyans should be at risk of asbestos exposure 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.4
Her colleague Assemblyman Robert Karabwchak endorsed her stance saying: It is our responsibility to best protect the health of our residents It is time we say no to this outdated material in New Jersey. No one should ever be exposed to harmful toxins.
Welcoming the positive action by the New Jersey politicians, veteran US asbestos victims attorney Steven Kazan said:
New Jersey was a major center of asbestos product manufacture for decades so it is most fitting that its legislature is taking the lead nationwide in the effort to protect its citizens from the EPAs folly in expanding permissible use of deadly asbestos in the United States. It is particularly gratifying to me since my familys ties to New Jersey go back almost a hundred years.
The draft bill will now go to the New Jersey Senate.
November 1, 2018
1 New Jersey Assembly Bill 4416.
2 Roll Call: A4416 Prohibits sale or distribution of products containing asbestos.
4 Swain, Karabinchak and Timberlake Bill Banning Sale and Distribution of Products Containing Asbestos Clears Assembly. October 30, 2018.