Every single day, around the world, about 300 people die from an asbestos-related disease. And the infuriating part about these deaths? They are completely preventable.
It has been common knowledge across the globe since about 1980 that asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is deadly. Yet, asbestos continues to remain legal in approximately 70 percent of the world — including the United States. Some countries do not fully understand the dangers of asbestos, while others are blinded by dollar signs. Asbestos is cheap, incredibly strong, and fireproof – making it a desirable material to use in consumer products like insulation, tiles, and automotive parts. Some corporations and countries would rather turn a blind eye to the hazards of asbestos exposure than give up guaranteed profit.
There’s so much that needs to be done to ban asbestos around the world, and one big way to get involved is happening right now. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) has announced the annual “Global Asbestos Awareness Week” for the period of April 1-7, 2016. Global Asbestos Awareness Week is all about increasing awareness, preventing exposure, and encouraging everyone to share, learn, and take action.
How Global Asbestos Awareness Week Is Observed
The ADAO has targeted 3 main points of focus for the 2016 Global Asbestos Awareness Week:
- Banning the mining of, the use of, and the act of manufacturing with asbestos
- Preventing asbestos exposure
- Increasing compliance and enforcement of existing laws and regulation
Each day of this awareness week will feature new educational resources, guest blogs, videos, and stories from victims of asbestos. The week will wrap up on April 7th with an online candlelit vigil and the publication of the 2016 Global Ban Asbestos Declaration. You are invited to participate and follow along in the week via the ADAO website and by using the hashtag #GAAW on social media.
What You Need to Know about Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral, so when those tiny fibers are released into the air, they can then be inhaled or ingested by anyone in the general area. Even secondhand asbestos exposure can occur if workers bring those fibers home from work on their clothing. Once asbestos fibers enter the body, they can become lodged in the lungs, stomach, or heart, and cause serious diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis to develop over time. Most asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period and can take 20-50 years to fully develop before they are diagnosed. Even more troubling? There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. It only takes 1, small fiber to cause a catastrophic, fatal illness.
“It is unconscionable that last year Russia, China, Brazil, and Kazakhstan continued to mine 2 million metric tons of asbestos to be used primarily in asbestos-cement products. While promising research continues, prevention remains the only cure,” said Linda Reinstein, the Co-founder and President of ADAO, in a press release.
While the United States is not still mining or manufacturing asbestos-containing products, they have not instituted a total ban on the use and sale of these products in our country. And as a result? The U.S. still imports 2.3 million pounds of asbestos per year.
Another big problem the U.S. faces, along with other countries like the U.K., is that there are many older existing buildings that were constructed using asbestos-containing products before they were banned. As these buildings age and crumble, the threat of asbestos exposure becomes greater and greater.
“Millions of tons of asbestos remain in homes, schools, and workplaces,” said Reinstein. “ADAO joins the global community in calling for a ban in the United States and around the world. Enough is Enough.”
How Did This Asbestos Problem Happen?
There was a long period of time in which manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew about the health dangers, and chose to remain silent. Rather than speaking out, moving to ban the material, and warning the public, these corporations put profit ahead of people and let their employees and customers get sick.
Over 35 years since the world became aware of the hazards of asbestos exposure, people are still dying while we try to clean up the mess that greedy corporations caused. It’s not fair, and it’s not OK — speak out against asbestos this week during Global Asbestos Awareness Week and let’s ban this harmful mineral — everywhere — once and for all.