A Campaign to Finally Ban Asbestos

Good morning. Today we’ll look at how a group pushing for a federal ban on asbestos teamed up with a firefighters’ union to promote its cause in an eye-catching way. We’ll also find out the results of a state audit of Kendra’s Law, a treatment program for mentally ill people at risk of becoming violent.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

It is an unusually serious message for a giant screen in Times Square: “Ban asbestos now.”

Those words are appearing four times an hour in an ad for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, which says that most Americans believe asbestos has been banned for more than 30 years. In fact, a federal appeals court, in 1991, overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to prohibit most uses of asbestos.

Asbestos, long linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma, has been used less widely in recent years, in part because of liability concerns.

But the disease awareness group says that more than 300 tons of it came into the country last year. The group has been campaigning for a federal ban on such imports and has joined with the International Association of Fire Fighters, the largest union of firefighters and paramedics in the United States, to create the billboard ads.

“We’re hoping to spark curiosity, and, by raising awareness, prevent exposure to asbestos,” said Linda Reinstein, the president of the disease awareness group.

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