An image of asbestos wrapped with Donald Trump's face was posted to the Facebook page of a Russian asbestos company on 25 June 2018. Photo: Ураласбест / Facebook

By Olivia Rosane
11 July 2018

(EcoWatch) – Asbestos killed at least 45,221 Americans between 1999 and 2015, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found. But President Donald Trump has long expressed his support for the dangerous mineral currently banned by 65 countries.

"If we didn't remove incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos & replace it with junk that doesn't work, the World Trade Center would never have burned down," he tweeted in 2012.

Now, Uralasbest, a Russian asbestos producer supported by President Vladimir Putin, is thanking Trump for his support.

In a June 25 Facebook post reported by The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Wednesday, the company displayed an image of its product in plastic wrap stamped with Trump's face.

The image was surrounded by a seal reading "APPROVED BY DONALD TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES," according to a translation by ADAO and EWG.

"Donald is on our side!" the post accompanying the image began.

Uralasbest also praised the decision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under recently-resigned head Scott Pruitt, to limit risk assessments of asbestos and nine other chemicals mandated by a 2016 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act.

"He supported the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who stated that his agency would no longer deal with negative effects potentially derived from products containing asbestos. Donald Trump supported a specialist and called asbestos '100% safe after application,'" the post read, according to the translation by EWG and ADAO. [more]

Russian Asbestos Company Makes Trump Its Poster Boy


Delegates of union hold a demonstration for the inclusion of chrysotile, a mineral also known as white asbestos which health experts say causes cancer, on the list of hazardous materials of the UN Rotterdam Convention, on 28 April 2017, in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

By Nicole Goodkind
7 June 2018

(Newsweek) – The Environmental Protection Agency will not consider the health risks and impacts of asbestos already in the environment when evaluating the dangers associated with the chemical compound, Scott Pruitt, the agency's head, quietly announced last week. That means asbestos used in tiles, piping and adhesives throughout homes and businesses in the United States will remain largely unchecked and unaccounted for. Nearly 15,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases, but President Donald Trump has called the substance "100 percent safe, once applied."

In his 1997 book, The Art of the Comeback, Trump argued that the association of the chemical with health risks was part of a mob-created conspiracy. “I believe that the movement against asbestos was led by the mob, because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal. Great pressure was put on politicians, and as usual, the politicians relented,” he wrote.

The Trump EPA's decision came in response to new amendments made to the Toxic Substances Control Act in 2016. The additions to the bill mandate that the EPA perform safety reviews of certain chemicals, require testing and public notice of safety info for said chemicals and allow the EPA to ban certain uses of asbestos (previously, the EPA did not have the authority to do so).

The EPA announced last Friday that it would evaluate and require approval for new uses of asbestos but would not evaluate the health risks of asbestos already in the environment. “The end result will be a seriously inadequate risk evaluation that fails to address major contributors to the heavy and growing toll of asbestos mortality and disease in the United States,” said Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization in a statement.

Reinstein, whose husband developed Mesothelioma and passed away in 2006, told Newsweek that she met with Nancy Beck, deputy assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, on two occasions along with representatives from the AFL-CIO and the International Association of Fire Fighters. The group explained the hazards of legacy asbestos and presented over 100 studies confirming that low-dose asbestos exposure caused disease, but were shut down by Beck, she said. Beck was previously a senior director at the American Chemistry Council, a lobbyist group that represents Dow Chemical, DuPont, Monsanto and ExxonMobil Chemical.

In August of 2016, the American Chemistry Council sent a letter to the EPA urging the agency to carefully consider its decision regarding asbestos evaluation as the chemical is essential to the chlor-alkali industry, which creates chlorine and sodium hydroxide for industrial use. They asked the EPA to “take this into consideration as it determines whether to select asbestos among the initial 10 chemicals for risk evaluation” under the changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act. Chemical lobbyist agencies including American Chemical Council held at least four meetings with the EPA last year regarding asbestos policy.

“If you don’t evaluate the dangerous legacy of asbestos you don’t know how much contamination still exists in the United States,” Reinstein told Newsweek. “We know it’s in our homes, schools, workplace and environment but the average American can’t identify and evaluate the risk. We have taken risk evaluation off the table.” [more]

Donald Trump Called Asbestos Poisoning a Mob-Led Conspiracy, Now His EPA Won’t Evaluate Asbestos Already in Homes

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