A Slow Death in Texas

Asbestos Mortality on the rise in the Lone Star State

February 14, 2005

A Slow Death in Texas: Conclusions and Recommendations

If there is an asbestos crisis in Texas, certainly its most important facet is the hundreds of people who die each year from asbestos-caused cancers and disease. In 2002, there were 259 reported deaths from just two forms of asbestos disease, mesothelioma and asbestosis. EWG Action Fund estimates that up to 1,000 Texans a year will die from all asbestos diseases at the peak of asbestos mortality between 2015 and 2020.

Any legislative effort to address the asbestos issue in Texas must focus first on the public health dimension of the problem. Some policy decisions are more appropriate at the federal level, such as a much needed ban on asbestos, 30 million pounds of which is still used in products sold in the United States each year. But much could be done in Texas and other states to help those innocent people who, simply by reporting to work each day, now suffer from painful, debilitating, and often fatal asbestos disease.

Any legislative package passed in Texas or elsewhere must:

  • Ensure that every individual injured or killed by asbestos receives a fair and prompt measure of assistance, and that this help is not delayed, denied, or in any way diminished by any action taken by the legislature.
  • Protect the right of every person injured by asbestos to seek compensation through the courts. A national or state level trust fund could be part of a solution, but participation in such a fund must be optional as with the fund set up to help the families of the World Trade Center disaster.
  • Ensure that asbestos remediation efforts are policed aggressively. Recent convictions of shady remediation companies reveal a far too pervasive lack of oversight of this industry.