Linda Reinstein lost her husband, Alan, in 2006 due to a valiant fight against mesothelioma. With their daughter and Linda by his side, Alan succumbed to the complications of his diagnosis, which was medically connected to elongated exposure to asbestos.
"For each life lost, a shattered family is left behind,"
Reinstein told Mesowatch in an exclusive interview.
"Mesothelioma stole my best friend, and I desperately want him back. Hundreds of thousands of other Americans feel the same way. Asbestos-caused illnesses are entirely preventable, and Alan, and the 40,000 other Americans who die each year from asbestos, did not need to die."
Sometime before Alan's passing, Linda co-founded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) as an avenue for her to direct her anger and passion for her husband.
"We were a typical American family – trusting that our government would protect our air, water, and soil from toxins – but that’s false," she said.
"Fueled by my intense grief and anger about Alan’s mesothelioma diagnosis and that asbestos had not been banned in the USA – I knew I had to turn my anger into action – so I co-founded ADAO."
Presently, 2020 is ending after an extraordinary period of adaptation that the novel COVID-19 virus pandemic caused. To make this year even more challenging, the U.S. Congress votes to indefinitely suspend debate and actions on a bill that would have banned asbestos throughout the entire country — a goal Reinstein has set her eyes on accomplishing since the death of Alan.
H.R. 1603, named the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN) in honor of her husband, was killed by partisan squabbles among the Democratic and Republican members of Congress.
"Everyone should be able to support a ban on this known carcinogen, which has no place in our consumer products or processes. More than 40,000 Americans die every year from asbestos exposure, but Republicans are willing to look the other way,"
Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in a statement responding to the committee's action to indefinitely postpone the vote on H.R. 1603.
In November of 2019, a bipartisan coalition of members on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce mediated their differences to draft and amend the landmark bill. H.R. 1603 advanced out of the committee with 47 votes in favor versus one lone vote in opposition to its passage.
In an October 2 statement, Reinstein has urged Congress to revisit negotiations on H.R. 1603 due to the public health necessity to ban asbestos once and for all. Since the bipartisan consensus in Congress agrees that a ban on asbestos and a study on legacy asbestos is warranted, she hopes for responsible action to be taken.
"I believe in the legislative process and know that the Congress members who have worked hard on this bill for nearly two years will continue to advocate for our bill," Reinstein said at the end of our interview. "Hundreds of thousands of families who have been affected by asbestos-related illnesses are waiting for action. All Americans remain in danger of asbestos exposure."
She says her resolve is stronger than ever, too.
"Despite the delay, we are the closest we’ve ever been to passing a ban bill, and ARBAN is the most comprehensive bill put before Congress in 30 years," she concluded.
Michael McGrady, a journalist based in Colorado, writes on public health and harm reduction topics for publications like Mesowatch.