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Former Congressman's Widow Urges Asbestos Ban

March 1, 2007 WASHINGTON - Congressman Bruce Vento is best remembered for his efforts to preserve the environment during his 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. The beloved politician fell victim to mesothelioma in 2000 and nearly 7 years after his death his wife took her turn on Capitol Hill.

Sue Vento testified in front of the Senate Health Committee about her husband's fight against malignant mesothelioma and urged lawmakers to endorse legislation that would ban asbestos in the United States.

While greatly restricted in use both from EPA rulings and public outcry, it is still found in some industrial applications and may even be found on the brakes on your car. Asbestos was used for decades in fireproofing and insulation as a "miracle material" resistant to heat and flames. In 1989 the EPA banned most products containing asbestos but their ruling was over turned in 1991 by a Federal Appeals Court.

Exposure can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, and the particularly fatal cancer mesothelioma. Often these develop decades after initial exposure due to the long gestation times of the diseases.

While most automakers stopped using asbestos in brakes beginning in the 1990s some imported brakes still use the material. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, who has pushed for similar legislation in the past showed the committee a box full of asbestos laden brake pads which she claimed was purchased earlier in the week.

The committee will continue their analysis and we will report any further developments.