This Thursday, September 26th is National Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Each year, thousands of people mark the date to raise awareness for mesothelioma, a deadly disease that has no cure and kills around 3,000 people per year.
As a preventable illness, mesothelioma warrants as much coverage and attention as it can get. The 26th of September is the best time to show support for families and individuals affected by the disease and to educate people about the risks of asbestos exposure.
A Vital Day in the Mesothelioma Community Since 2004
National Mesothelioma Awareness Day was established by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) in 2004. But it wasn’t until 2010 that the date earned federal recognition, with both houses of Congress passing a bill that proclaimed the 26th as National Mesothelioma Awareness Day.
The goal then was the same as it is now: Educate the public about the threat of mesothelioma and what can be done to prevent it. Advocates have also worked to create support networks for patients and families affected by the disease, and to inform them of various treatment options. Awareness campaigns through social media, as well as a number of successful fundraisers, have managed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for mesothelioma research and prevention.
What Is Asbestos?
The challenge to prevent mesothelioma goes well beyond fundraising. While Mesothelioma Awareness Day has been around for 15 years, advocates are far from reaching a nationwide ban on asbestos. Asbestos is the naturally occurring mineral that is the only known cause of mesothelioma.
The dangerous mineral can be inhaled or ingested accidentally — usually, people are exposed to it on old job sites with asbestos-containing products, or in older structures predating the 1980s, including military bases.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates some 1.3 million workers in the U.S. alone risk exposure to asbestos at their workplaces — be it construction, repair and maintenance, or industrial activities.
This leads to around 3,000 new mesothelioma cases each year. And those figures have shown little sign of abating. In fact, the number of annual mesothelioma deaths has risen since the 1990s. Asbestos continues to be used in commercial products, and last year asbestos imports to the U.S. doubled, with 750 tons of it entering through the country’s ports.
For now, with no ban or further regulation in sight, a large portion of the asbestos-prevention effort falls upon education. That’s why National Mesothelioma Awareness Day is so important. Seizing on the success of the campaign, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) has since begun recognizing all of September as Mesothelioma Awareness Month.
What You Should Know About This Year’s Mesothelioma Awareness Day
This year, supporters can expect a variety of charitable events, conferences, and social media campaigns to occur on the 26th. All of them will focus on mesothelioma awareness, research, and prevention.
MARF has launched some very important projects, including a social media campaign encouraging participants to share photos of themselves wearing blue, a Twitter chat anchored to the hashtag #curemeso, and a number of third-party fundraisers around the country.
The annual Miles for Meso Race begins a couple of days later on Saturday, September 28th, which can be joined virtually (from a distance) or in-person at the event in historic downtown Alton, Illinois. There’s also the iWalk4Meso virtual race and the annual Kayaking 4 Meso fundraiser.
Those interested will also find a number of local events and awareness campaigns in which they can participate. All support shown, whether in person or through social media, helps work towards an asbestos ban, a mesothelioma cure—or both.
Show your support for those affected by mesothelioma by wearing blue this mesothelioma awareness day. Every bit of attention we offer this disease, and the communities affected by it, goes a long way toward promoting the public awareness we need to end the era of death and destruction that a legacy of asbestos has wrought upon society.