Last month, the United States Senate established the first week of April as National Asbestos Awareness Week. This week, we are reminded of the hazardous and fatal dangers of asbestos and are given an opportunity to spread public awareness and to take a moment to remember those affected by the deadly fibrous material.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral known for its heat resistance, tensile strength and versatility. It was commonly used from the 1930s to the 1970s for everything from fireproof clothing to commercial construction products. It has even been implemented in every branch of the U.S. military.
The problem is that this widely used mineral is highly toxic. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, some may become lodged into the lining of the lungs. Repeated inhalation of asbestos can lead to tumor growth and the development of mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related diseases (pleural, pericardial, testicular, and peritoneal mesothelioma.)
The importance of asbestos awareness is significant because thousands of Americans are affected by asbestos-related diseases and cancers. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with mesothelioma, a rare cancer almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. Once diagnosed with this horrible disease, the average lifespan is one year for a mesothelioma patient.
During this week, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, which is the largest independent asbestos victims’ nonprofit organization in the U.S., hopes to significantly raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos by hosting an online exclusive candlelight vigil Monday honoring those fighting preventable asbestos-caused diseases and to remember those we have lost.
ADAO has also launched a Global Asbestos Awareness online campaign that will include seven posts called “7 Facts for 7 Days” on its website, which will include one post a day about varying asbestos-related subjects.
To continue spreading the awareness of the hazards of asbestos even after this week, consider extending your knowledge of asbestos for Mesothelioma Awareness Day, Sept. 26.
How You Can Spread Awareness:
- Make Mesothelioma Awareness Day an official day in your hometown or state. Just notify your local city council, which will tell you exactly what you need to do to proceed, or contact your state governor’s office and then contact the state legislature in both the Senate and House for a permanent state Resolution.
- Use social media to spark conversation
- Organize a fundraising event to raise funds for mesothelioma or asbestos research
- Make t-shirts or bracelets to wear during National Asbestos Awareness Week or Mesothelioma Awareness Day, or any other day dedicated to spreading awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure
- Participate in local asbestos awareness events
This week is dedicated to promoting education, awareness, prevention and rights for victims, but many Americans are affected by asbestos daily and some may not even know it. Do your part and take a stand. Use your knowledge to spread public awareness and help save lives.
Author bio: Kaitlyn Teabo is a writer for The Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in writing, cancer research and emerging scientific technology to educate the mesothelioma community about asbestos and its related diseases.
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. Press Release: ADAO Applauds the U.S. Senate for Unanimously Passing S. Res 66 Designating the First Week of April 2013 as “National Asbestos Awareness Week.” Retrieved from www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/archives/18240