Asbestos: Where is it Today?

Child With CrayonWhen I read an article in The Seattle Times, April 30, 2015, page A6, about Colgate-Palmolive Co. having to pay a jury-awarded $13 million for the wrongful death of a 73-year-old woman, I again felt the need to remind people that asbestos is still used in the United States of America. This woman (and millions of others) used Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder—on the market since the 1970’s. Who thinks of asbestos when they use a “gentle, soothing powder” on their skin? Here’s another heartbreaker—the three major makers of children’s color crayons used asbestos in the crayons for many years. Why? To make them smoother and stronger in those little hands. As a former art teacher, I saw these little ones gripping crayons, chewing and sucking on them, rubbing them across paper, their own faces and hands, and each other’s papers and desks. With 25 coloring children breathing and tasting crayons, a teacher cannot control every crayon all the time.The Asbestos Myth

Consumers won’t see “asbestos” on the labels of most products. Why? Because people wouldn’t buy products with it IF THEY KNEW ASBESTOS WAS IN THE PRODUCTS, so companies don’t list it on their packaging. When I read The Western News, April 3rd article from Senators Tester and Daines, I responded with a public letter to the editor myself in The Western News, hoping that the senators would learn about the overturned ban on asbestos and work to get it reinstated, along with Senator Patty Murray of Washington State. Senator Tester responded with no acknowledgment about the asbestos ban; Senator Daines did not bother to respond—yet, and Senator Murray also responded—she is continually fighting for the ban reinstatement. I still have hope for the Montana senators to work for a reinstated ban because they know the horrible damage asbestos has done particularly in Montana.

Responses from Senator Tester and Senator Patty Murray

Senator Tester

Dear H. M.,

Thank you for contacting me about the regulation of asbestos. I appreciate your concerns.

I recently sponsored a bipartisan resolution to designate the first week of April as National Asbestos Awareness week. This resolution will help raise awareness about the dangers and prevention efforts associated with this dangerous product.

In 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began clean-up efforts in Libby and the surrounding area. As you know, the process of removing contaminated materials is ongoing. The former vermiculite processing plants and other public areas have been cleaned up, capped, or buried. Clean-ups continue on residential and commercial properties. Libby and the surrounding area is so thoroughly contaminated that there is no way to be sure if the clean-up has been completely effective. I have supported previous legislative attempts to make sure the people of Libby get the help they need.

As additional legislation relating to supporting awareness and regulation of asbestos comes before me, I will keep your views in mind. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of further assistance.


Jon Tester
United States Senator

Senator Patty Murray

Dear Dr. Bowker:

Thank you so much for taking the time to contact my office and share your kind words of support. I am very proud to represent Washington state in the Senate, and your encouragement means so much to me.

I have always believed that the purpose of public service is to make a positive difference in the lives of ordinary Americans. If we are to effect real change in our country, we must remain visionary and honest on issues such as education, health care and the economy. I work for innovative solutions on these and other challenges that face our nation.

My work in the Senate is focused on people, and nothing is more important to me than receiving advice and comments from the people of Washington state. If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please feel free to sign up for my weekly updates at Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

Patty Murray
United States Senator

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