"A lot of people say that if the World Trade Center had asbestos it wouldn’t have burned down, it’s wouldn’t have melted. OK?" he said. "A lot of people in my industry think asbestos is the greatest fireproofing material ever made."
It wasn't the first time New York City's most infamous real estate developer defended the use of the fire-retardant. In his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, Trump wrote that asbestos was "100 percent safe, once applied," despite overwhelming evidence correlating the chemical with thousands of cases of mesothelioma, a deadly form of lung cancer. He even spread the conspiracy theory that "the movement against asbestos was led by the mob."
Now as president, sadly, Trump's love affair with asbestos has not waned, as he leads an under-the-radar effort to reintroduce asbestos into the American construction industry.
On June 1, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency under the direction of scandal-plagued Administrator Scott Pruitt, enacted the Significant New Use Rule, which gave the agency the authority to evaluate the use of asbestos on a case-by-case basis. The EPA began focusing on the potential harm caused by direct contact with toxic chemicals in the workplace.
"The approach means that the improper disposal of chemicals — leading to the contamination of drinking water, for instance — will often not be a factor in deciding whether to restrict or ban them," the New York Times wrote in June. This allows the EPA to circumvent the Obama-era Toxic Substances Control Act - requiring a comprehensive evaluation of potentially harmful substances.
Chelsea Clinton pounced on Trump's push for a renewal of asbestos, using the president's "#MAGA" slogan against him: "Make Asbestos Great Again!"
Asbestos was one of the first carcinogens regulated under the Clean Air Act in 1973 (Nixon was president) and then… https://t.co/0DnkMhvz7r— Chelsea Clinton (@Chelsea Clinton) 1533645845.0
Clinton was joined by other concerned citizens on Twitter who have grown weary of the mess Trump is leaving in his wake.
@ChelseaClinton I really pity our next President and all of the messes that he/she will have to clean up🤦♀️ That p… https://t.co/QHnnE77YDL— 🎄LetsBookAboutIt🎄 (@🎄LetsBookAboutIt🎄) 1533646401.0
@LetsBookAboutIt @ChelseaClinton Let's just hope that our next president isn't our current president, Please God— Sara (@Sara) 1533646834.0
@RollingStone Yay! More mesothelioma!— bubba D (@bubba D) 1533673493.0
@ChelseaClinton @owillis And it just so happens that Russia is a leading producer of asbestos.— TheDudeAbides 🆘 (@TheDudeAbides 🆘) 1533646170.0
@ChelseaClinton And this: https://t.co/fUlC4YYsDB #Russia #environnement #environmentprotection— Margaret Hetherman (@Margaret Hetherman) 1533646135.0
Not to mention the health risks asbestos poses.
@ChelseaClinton 😲OMG ... WHY? Have you met Anyone with Cancer as a result of asbestos? Where are the Voices of di… https://t.co/Rd6lp9C6n1— Teresam (@Teresam) 1533646663.0
@tmgjruss @ChelseaClinton My dad, he died from mesothelioma 25 years ago. It was horrible and I would not with it on anyone.— Lori Pehler (@Lori Pehler) 1533646933.0
@pfmiller0 @helengravesnyc @tmgjruss @ChelseaClinton The very rich do not work covering pipes with asbestos. Mesoth… https://t.co/TTwN5ekRwm— Lori Pehler (@Lori Pehler) 1533664522.0
"What's next, lead paint?"
@ChelseaClinton What's next? Lead paint?— Deborah Rojek (@Deborah Rojek) 1533646029.0
The Trump administration's push to reintroduce asbestos into American construction projects is not merely an enormous risk to public health and an affront to science - it's a surreptitious economic gift to Russia.
In July, the Washington Post reported that a Russian company, Uralasbest, posted pictures of pallets of freshly manufactured asbestos, wrapped in plastic and adorned with a seal of a smirking Donald Trump. The seal also contained a message: "Approved by Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States."
Uralasbest, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin has a vested interest, owns and operates a mine in Asbest, the Post reported, which is "seven miles long, a mile and a half wide and about 1,000 feet deep for an area that is nearly half the size of Manhattan." Asbest is known as "the dying city" due to its high instances of lung cancer.
Russian manufacturers, like Uralasbest, stand to benefit enormously under the EPA's greenlighting of the renewed use of asbestos. Brazil, until recently, produced 95 percent of the world's asbestos, however, the country banned the mining, use, and sale of the chemical, opening up the market to Russian producers.
This means Russia would be the sole exporter of asbestos to the United States. But nobody is tougher on Russia than Trump, right?
The fact is, asbestos has been blamed for 40,000 deaths annually and was one of the first chemicals banned under the 1973 Clean Air Act. The World Health Organization has said that "all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis." The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization confirmed these numbers in April 2018.
Please visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance for more information on asbestos and mesothelioma.