What you need to know and what you can do to make a difference.
Global Asbestos Awareness Week kicks off on April 1st for the sixth consecutive year and runs through April 7th. This annual week of public awareness is championed by the advocacy efforts of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). The ADAO is the largest U.S. nonprofit dedicated to preventing and ending asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring and versatile mineral that has been used in countless applications for centuries. The mineral’s deadly effects are well documented in corporate memos from the 1930s, and yet manufacturers and industry continued to use it. The first Global Asbestos Awareness Week, or GAAW, wasn’t recognized until 2012. It has since developed into an international movement. The focus of this week is education, prevention, remembrance, and action.
What You Need to Know About Asbestos
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos on the job. And over 100,000 asbestos-related deaths continue to occur annually. It is important that we understand what these numbers reveal – needless deaths and greed. These are individuals and families forever impacted by a preventable disease. Here are the facts:
- Asbestos is a known carcinogen and has no known safe exposure level.
- Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. It can also cause lung cancer, asbestosis, and other debilitating diseases.
- Mesothelioma is a rare terminal cancer and has no cure.
- Many U.S. homes built before 1987 very likely still contain asbestos.
- If existing asbestos is disturbed during home renovations or maintenance, it can release fine dust particles into the air endangering your family’s health.
- Fifty-five countries have banned the use of asbestos.
- The U.S. has yet to successfully ban asbestos. Americans consumed 358 metric tons in 2015, according the U.S. Geological Study (USGS).
- Canada has announced it will ban asbestos by 2018, but continues to import tons of the deadly mineral in the meantime.
- The asbestos industry pushes its product in developing countries where cheap and under-regulated materials are used.
- The asbestos industry is lobbying for laws that will take away the rights of asbestos victims to hold companies who caused their asbestos exposure accountable.
What You Can Do About Asbestos to Make a Difference in Your Community
The problems presented by asbestos are tough, but knowledge is power and we can draw strength from numbers. Here is your GAAW to-do list:
- If you are planning on renovating or repairing an older home and you suspect the presence of asbestos, call an accredited company that is trained to safely handle asbestos material.
- Learn more about the dangerous legacy of asbestos, today’s active asbestos market, and legislation affecting current and future asbestos victims.
- Spread the word. Share your knowledge with friends and family. Start a Facebook conversation. Tweet about asbestos using #GAAW.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper explaining why Global Asbestos Awareness Week is important.
- Write a letter to Congress encouraging your representatives and senators to pass legislation to ban asbestos-containing products.
It’s up to all of us to protect our communities. Take action today!