Congress Targets Asbestos Victims

Statement of Susan Harley, Deputy Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: The U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law holds a hearing on the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act) (H.R. 526) at 1 p.m. today. Read a letter from public interest groups to lawmakers for more details (PDF).

As if people sickened by asbestos had not suffered enough, along comes Congress to compound their misery.

A measure being considered by lawmakers today, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act) (H.R. 526), would delay compensation for those suffering with lethal diseases like mesothelioma. It also would require victims to publicly disclose personal information, such as portions of their Social Security numbers, thereby making them ripe for identity theft.

Asbestos was once ubiquitous as insulation and a flame retardant in buildings, homes and workplaces like naval vessels. Now it is recognized as a highly dangerous product. The frightening reality is that an unknown amount of the cancer-causing substance is still present in our surroundings, but the asbestos industry does not have to disclose where and when it was and is being used.

Read the full statement.