Posted on April 8, 2019
In 2019, asbestos remains legal and lethal in the United States, despite being banned in 60 other countries worldwide. Just last year, the United States Geological Survey released data indicating that U.S. imports of deadly, raw asbestos had risen to 750 metric tons, up from only 332 tons in 2017. This year’s Global Asbestos Awareness Week (#2019GAAW) marked 15 years of efforts from all at the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) who strive to raise awareness on the issue. By encouraging communities worldwide to share, learn and – most importantly – take action, the hope is that exposure to asbestos will lessen, ultimately reducing the number of unnecessary deaths.
You blew it away it on social media! According to our data, #2019GAAW had nearly 300,000 impressions!
Thursday, Day Four was a particularly powerful day for awareness, and we thank all who participated.
This year we again partnered for prevention with the U.K.’s Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and combined our expertise in order to expand our outreach with the media, associations, and organizations. On Thursday, IOSH hosted the “Preventing asbestos exposure risks” webinar with BOHS,” where ADAO presented “Global Asbestos Awareness Week: Mitigating and Eliminating Asbestos Exposure Risks.” According to IOSH, more than 200 people attended the webinar in support of their No Time to Lose (NTTL) campaign
To ensure our messages were heard across the globe, we once again joined forces with McOnie, a specialist PR agency with 25 years of experience spanning the occupational health, manufacturing, and industrial markets. McOnie is the ideal partner as they are more than aware of the true dangers of asbestos and the devastating impact it has on victims and their families.
ADAO developed communications materials that encouraged a worldwide call to action. The “Asbestos: One Word. One Week. One World.” message promoted valuable public health information, including key World Health Organization statistics highlighting the nearly 300 daily deaths from asbestos-related disease around the world. ADAO engaged with international networks to ensure the press release was translated into six languages — English, Spanish, French, Hindi, Portuguese and Russian — for international distribution.
Partnering for Prevention
In addition to widely distributed press releases, we partnered with artist and activist Firdaus Kharas to feature Public Service Announcement videos is those same six languages. Kharas’s videos captured the tragic reality about deadly asbestos as seen in “Asbestos: The Killer You Can’t See” || “Asbesto: El asesino que no puede ver” || “Асбест: убийца, которого вы не видите“ || “एस्बेस्टोस: द किलर आप देख नहीं सकते” || “Amianto: O assassino que você não pode” || “L’amiante: le tueur que vous ne voyez pas”.
ADAO also partnered with the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University for a free screening of the asbestos documentary Breathless on Thursday, April 4th. The documentary examines the impact of asbestos exposure, as well as the relentless propaganda used by the industry to peddle asbestos in developing countries. Following the screening of the film, an expert panel discussed the social, environmental, and legal impact of asbestos, while also answering questions from the audience. On the panel were Dr. David Michaels, Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University; Gopal Krishna, PhD, co-founder-convener of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI); Daniel Lambo, Breathless filmmaker; Robert Sussman, former Senior Policy Counsel to the EPA Administrator; and myself.
We would also like to thank the Surgeon General, Honorable Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., for responding to the Senate’s request by tweeting and raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos to his 588,000 followers! Surgeon General Adams wrote:
National Asbestos Awareness Week is April 1-7 – a good time to remind everyone about the health dangers of asbestos exposure. If you think you have been exposed, I encourage you to speak to your health care professional. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2OFAH57
— U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) April 1, 2019
Special thanks to all of our Global Asbestos Awareness Week Ambassadors, including day one’s Heather Von St. James, day two’s Julie Gundlach, day three’s Conor B. Lewis and Zack Johnson, day four’s Mavis Nye, day five’s Mike Mattmuller, and day six’s Sara Babin. Without all of their incredible advocacy and strength, our message would not be as powerful.
Last but not least, we would like to give a big thank you to Jessica Mattmuller for creating our incredible Global Asbestos Awareness Week graphics.
As I reflect on the success of #2019GAAW, I am both amazed and encouraged. I am amazed of how far the core messages of GAAW and ADAO traveled, and I was encouraged to see tangible results from our combined efforts, highlighting that what we are doing is meaningful. More people than ever have truly heard what we have to say and, more importantly, have recognized the importance of sharing it with others. In the U.S., the Senate unanimously passed the 15th annual resolution to establish a National Asbestos Awareness Week, held in conjunction with GAAW during the same week.
As the sun set on GAAW, we gathered on Friday to light a candle of hope, remembrance, and strength as we began the 15th Annual Asbestos Awareness and Prevention Conference in Washington DC. In total, there were nearly 40 conference presenters from around the world and a candlelight vigil at the end to honor and support those touched by the disease. We also had the opportunity to be together for the conference on Day Seven of GAAW and light a candle as a unified group.
The global reaction to GAAW ’19 has been truly remarkable, and we have created worldwide conversations on asbestos dangers. Our 2019 mantra “One Word, One Week, One World” has been realized and more people than ever are aware of the efforts of ADAO.
Together, our shared goals and ultimate objectives are:
- to ban both the manufacturing and mining of asbestos
- prevent overall exposures
- increase the compliance and enforcement of existing laws and regulation
If we continue to take action together, we will achieve our goals. To each of you who shared our educational resources, your own personal story, or the stories of other Warriors— you made this happen and are the biggest part of the solution!
We look forward to continuing the Global Asbestos Awareness Week conversation in 2020. Until then, remember: HEAR ASBESTOS. THINK PREVENTION.