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Biden administration bans asbestos as part of Cancer Moonshot initiative

Asbestos, a known carcinogen, is linked to more than 40,000 deaths a year.
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We’re all thinking it, so on the count of three, let’s say it. One, two, three: “Wasn’t asbestos already banned?”

Turns out, not really. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday banned the ongoing use of cancer-causing asbestos as part of the Biden–Harris administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative.

“Today’s rule is a positive first step to give all Americans a future free of exposure to asbestos—a carcinogen that has killed far too many,” Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, said in a statement. “However, it cannot be the end of the road when it comes to phasing out other dangerous asbestos fibers, and Congress has a role to play here when it comes to providing stronger protections for our health.”

Up until the ban, a form of the mineral fiber called chrysotile asbestos was still being used in some industrial processes, according to the EPA. Exposure to asbestos can cause many forms of cancer and is linked to more than 40,000 deaths a year, according to NPR.

It’s not just asbestos the Biden administration is after. The president wants to “end cancer as we know it,” according to a fact sheet.

Biden touched on this agenda during his recent State of the Union address, mentioning the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, an agency established as a bipartisan effort for healthcare research.

“They’ve invested $500 million [in contracts] across innovation for cancer and other diseases,” Danielle Carnival, deputy assistant to the president for the Cancer Moonshot program, told Healthcare Brew.

Carnival also mentioned a new clinical trials program focusing on “the hardest-to-treat cancers,” such as cancers with tumors that change in unpredictable ways.

Other objectives in the Cancer Moonshot program include access to cancer screenings, prevention of toxic environment exposures, and improving Medicare coverage for cancer patients.

“Cancer has touched nearly every American family. It’s personal for the president. It’s personal for the first lady. It’s personal for me. I’m sure it’s personal for so many people across this country,” Carnival said. “Taking [cancer] on, and really changing outcomes for people […] is something that we can do together, and show that we can do big things when we put our minds to it.”

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.