Widow of Steve McQueen Speaks Out

Widow of Steve McQueen Speaks Out about Asbestos in PSA

A new public service announcement featuring Barbara McQueen, widow of actor Steve McQueen, who died of mesothelioma, urges citizens of the U.S. to continue to fight towards a ban on asbestos.

Mrs. McQueen – along with Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) co-founSteve McQueen mesotheliomad and president, Linda Reinstein – offers up the facts about the toxin in a 75-second spot that provides all the facts, including the one that points out that 15,000 Americans die of asbestos-related diseases each year.

McQueen hopes adding her voice and her recognizable name to the cause will prompt regular Americans to think about the importance of a U.S. ban on the use of asbestos.

She hopes the country will join the other 60 countries worldwide that have already banned the hazardous mineral.

However, the current political leadership frightens those who are rallying for this ban.

“In 2016, historic (and bipartisan, believe it or not) legislation brought us closer than ever to finally getting asbestos banned,” wrote the ADAO in a press release about the new public service announcement, published in the Huffington Post. “But under Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a drastic pro-business, anti-science turn and threatens to undo years of hard-fought but collaborative progress.”

Much hope came along with the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century, which was signed into law last June by then-President Obama. During the signing, he spoke about asbestos and the fact that a ban was clearly called for, promising that asbestos would be one of the first 10 chemicals reviewed under the new act.

Then-EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, was eager to move the process along, but because with the November election came a new leader for the EPA, McCarthy simply didn’t have the time to make any important decisions or moves.

Instead, Trump insinuated that the campaign to ban asbestos was led by the “Mafia” and that the material was 100 percent safe. In fact, in the past, he has allowed workers at his properties to toil amidst deplorable conditions that included clouds of asbestos dust, records show.

And the story gets worse.

Nancy Beck, who is the new Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), is a longtime chemical industry executive, so it’s unlikely she’ll side with ban asbestos advocates.

“She left her senior policy director position with American Chemistry Council (ACC) to join the EPA,” Reinstein points out. “Decades have proven that the ACC is one of the major trade industries fighting protect the use of asbestos in American manufacturing.”

New OCSPP leader, Michael Dourson, left a previous post at the EPA in 1995 to found the non-profit Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), which has “close ties to chemical manufacturers, tobacco companies and other industry interests,” according to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI).

That leaves many with little hope that an asbestos ban will happen anytime soon, but Barbara McQueen and others will keep pressing the issue with hopes that someone in a position of power will finally listen.