Posted on January 30, 2023

Earlier this month, I was honored to speak at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, illuminating ADAO’s experience in public health advocacy. The presentation, entitled, “21st Century Public Health Advocacy: Building Support and Momentum with Research and Strategic Storytelling”, was dedicated to Dr. Irving J. Selikoff. 

The presentation highlighted the specifics of ADAO’s three pillars: Education, Advocacy, and Community. Students got a peek into the latest asbestos data and research, ADAO’s multi-track strategy, and our media engagement approach. We also covered inequities in public health today and how our work looks at environmental racism.

ADAO continues to advocate for better protections when it comes to asbestos exposure across the nation and around the globe. Sadly, over 40,000 Americans die each year from preventable illnesses caused by asbestos exposure; including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and cancers of the lung, larynx, and ovaries. However, most people do not know that asbestos is still legal and lethal in our country. 

ADAO’s dual-track strategy of legislative and legal battles will not only stop imports and use of asbestos but help the chlor-alkali industry transition into safer, more environmentally friendly alternatives.  We have worked hard and will continue to do so alongside public health advocates, agencies like Food and Drug Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, and of course, Congress to protect the public from toxic substances. 

Throughout the presentation, we discussed how asbestos contributes to environmental racism due to the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on communities or color, including pollution, carcinogens, and unclean water. Asbestos also has a deadlier impact on communities of color through legacy asbestos — living in older houses that contain asbestos, attending schools and workplaces that were built using asbestos — and direct exposure through chemical companies and  industries with high cancer risks. 

Arthur Frank, MD, PhD and ADAO Science Advisory Co-Chair shared, “It was an honor to have the ADAO president present to our students and faculty and see the positive reactions and the understand of the important roles NGOs such as ADAO play in bring about meaningful change.”

Together, time has proven that we can make change happen and we are all deeply committed to the advocacy and strategies that prevent asbestos exposure to eliminate all asbestos-caused diseases and protect public health.

Linda Reinstein

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