The theme of the 2021 Global Asbestos Awareness Week is “One Word. One Week. One World.” Since 2005, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) has hosted a week of education and action to end the use of asbestos. Though the dangers of asbestos have been known for decades, there remains a need to educate the public and those in office who can make a difference in its importation and use. April 1-7 of each year we are reminded that this danger still exists and threatens lives. Since the first Global Asbestos Awareness Week in 2005 until today, it is estimated 600,000 Americans lost their lives to asbestos-caused illnesses.
U.S. Senate passed 16th resolution for “Global Asbestos Awareness Week”
The Senate once again formally recognized the need for public exposure to the dangers of asbestos. Linda Reinstein, mesothelioma widow and ADAO co-founder, congratulated the Senate for the passage of S. Res. 145. Reinstein wrote, “We are grateful to Congress for passing this resolution and once again putting the dangers of asbestos exposure on the national radar, but we must do more.” She further emphasized, “With this continuation of use and an increase in imports, awareness of the dangers of asbestos, and an eventual ban on imports and use, are more important than ever. Unlike the more than 70 countries that have banned asbestos, Americans remain at risk of asbestos exposure every day from a variety of places, including our schools, homes, workplaces, and from unsuspecting products on consumer shelves like toys and cosmetics.”
What are the dangers of asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral that can be used in the manufacture of many products, including insulation, shingles, brake pads, tile mastic, cosmetics and hundreds of other uses. Though it’s been known for over a century that asbestos exposure can be deadly – no matter the level of exposure – there is still no ban in the United States.
Inhalation of asbestos causes a spectrum of diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma – a disease which can be caused by even brief or intermittent asbestos exposures.
How can Global Asbestos Awareness Week help?
Each year, goals are set to push forward the asbestos banning agenda. This year there are four main points:
• Banning the mining, manufacturing, and use of asbestos
• Preventing asbestos exposure
• Increasing compliance and enforcement of existing laws and regulations
• Strengthening international partnerships
Reinstein reported, “The United States imported nearly 30 percent more asbestos in 2020 than in the prior year. With this continuation of use and an increase in imports, awareness of the dangers of asbestos, and an eventual ban on imports and use, are more important than ever.”
What can you do to help?
If you suspect asbestos in your home or business built before 1980, have an abatement professional inspect before any remodeling or disturbance of the material. If you’ve been exposed, let your doctors know so they can create a baseline and monitor you for signs of asbestos disease.
During this Global Asbestos Awareness Week, let your congressional and senatorial representatives, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), know your concerns and the need for a ban. This is long past due; let’s make it happen!