Each year, the first week of April marks Global Asbestos Awareness Week (GAAW), an important, week-long awareness campaign that aims to educate the public on asbestos, the deadly diseases associated with it, and the preventative measures people can take to avoid being exposed.
Simply put: Asbestos is a lethal mineral. While it is an organic material, it was used by manufacturers for decades inside of countless products, from insulation to brake pads to flooring tiles and much, much more. Prized for its natural properties of heat- and fire-resistance, asbestos was seen by many industries as a “miracle mineral.”
While asbestos was — and still is — relatively cheap and easy to mine, the mineral itself carries with it a number of grave health risks. If inhaled or ingested, individual asbestos fibers can get stuck inside of the tissue that surrounds vital organs, including the lungs, heart, and stomach. Over time, these fibers can spur on the development of one of the deadliest cancers known: mesothelioma.
What makes this story a tragedy is that the companies that incorporated asbestos into their products knew about the health risks, but continued to disregard them year after year. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people have died from asbestos-related diseases.
Sponsored by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the aim of GAAW is to open up the conversation surrounding the seldom-discussed and often overlooked topic of asbestos: why asbestos is here — now — inside of our buildings and homes and what we can all do to avoid being exposed to it.
As it does every year, GAAW will run from April 1 through April 7. Each day is an opportunity to learn more about the hidden dangers of asbestos, to share information with your own communities, and to voice your support for legislation that would ban all uses of asbestos in the United States and around the world.
Global Asbestos Awareness Week 2021: ‘One Word. One Week. One World.’
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no safe level of asbestos exposure: “all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans.” In spite of this fact, well over 100,000 people around the world die each year from diseases caused by asbestos and more than 125 million workers are exposed to asbestos at or within their workplace.
In the United States alone, it’s estimated that as many as 12,000-15,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). And while asbestos is banned in more than 60 countries, including the entire European Union and a majority of industrialized nations, there is no ban in the United States.
While regulations vary around the world, the fact is all countries continue to face issues regarding asbestos. Even in heavily regulated countries, where the import and use of asbestos are outlawed, asbestos-containing products remain inside of older buildings and materials.
The goal of GAAW this year is to focus the international community’s attention on the issue of asbestos and to promote ideas and laws that progress our world toward a completely asbestos-free future. In an effort to prevent more asbestos-related diseases and deaths, the global community will unite to shine a light on:
- Banning the mining and use of asbestos
- Preventing asbestos exposure
- Increasing compliance and enforcement of existing laws and regulations
- Strengthening international partnerships
Each country around the world has a role to play in preventing asbestos-related diseases and deaths. The importance of getting the global community to work together on this issue cannot be underestimated, for so long as there remains a market demand for asbestos, its use will not end.
Getting Involved This Global Asbestos Awareness Week
Here at Sokolove Law, we encourage everyone to join the fight against asbestos by getting involved during Global Asbestos Awareness Week.
You can do your part by educating yourself on the public health issues surrounding asbestos, sharing educational materials with your own local and online communities, and supporting a U.S. ban on all imports and uses of asbestos.
In addition, you can also contribute to the movement by calling on your state and local politicians to support and promote legislation that would seek to ban asbestos in the United States.
Finally, support charities and non-profit organizations like the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which does tremendous work to help families that have been impacted by asbestos-related diseases, draft asbestos legislation, and educate communities around the world.
You can follow all of the action on social media by using the hashtag #2021GAAW.