Asbestos killed at least 45,221 Americans between 1999 and 2015, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found. But President Donald Trump has long expressed his support for the dangerous mineral currently banned by 65 countries.
“If we didn’t remove incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos & replace it with junk that doesn’t work, the World Trade Center would never have burned down,” he tweeted in 2012.
Now, Uralasbest, a Russian asbestos producer supported by President Vladimir Putin, is thanking Trump for his support.
In a June 25 Facebook post reported by The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Wednesday, the company displayed an image of its product in plastic wrap stamped with Trump’s face.
The image was surrounded by a seal reading “APPROVED BY DONALD TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,” according to a translation by ADAO and EWG.
“Donald is on our side!” the post accompanying the image began.
Uralasbest also praised the decision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under recently-resigned head Scott Pruitt, to limit risk assessments of asbestos and nine other chemicals mandated by a 2016 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act.
“He supported the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who stated that his agency would no longer deal with negative effects potentially derived from products containing asbestos. Donald Trump supported a specialist and called asbestos ‘100% safe after application,'” the post read, according to the translation by EWG and ADAO.
The post comes little over six months after Brazil, previously the U.S.’s main supplier of asbestos, decided to ban the substance, bumping Russian into the NO. 1 spot, as Chemical & Engineering News reported in December.
Russia is home to the largest asbestos industry in the world, The Center for Public Integrity reported.
“Russia’s asbestos industry stand to prosper mightily as a result of the Trump Administration’s failure to ban asbestos in the U.S.,” EWG President Ken Cook said in a press release. “Helping Putin and Russian oligarchs amass fortunes by selling a product that kills thousands each year should never be the role of a U.S. president or the EPA, but this is the Trump administration. Russia’s interests are Trump’s interests, and any clear-eyed American knows it.”
Trump is slated to meet with Putin in Finland July 16.