15 Years of Asbestos Awareness and Prevention Victories from Capitol Hill – and More to Come 

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Featured on April 1, 2019

Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and there is no safe level of exposure.

Press Release (English): ADAO Launches 15th Annual “Global Asbestos Awareness Week” April 1-7, 2019

Each year, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) dedicates April 1-7 to increasing awareness of asbestos and preventing exposure by bringing together experts and victims from around the world to share, learn, and take action. To view all 7 days of Global Asbestos Awareness Week (GAAW) content, please click hereAlso, be sure to follow the conversation on social media with our GAAW hashtag: #2019GAAW.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and there is no safe level of exposure. Throughout the 19th century, this mineral was widely used in construction, shipbuilding, the automotive industry, and various types of manufacturing. Without a ban, asbestos remains legal and lethal in nearly 70% of countries around the world, including the United States.

Today, we will be highlighting some critical asbestos-related resources from the World Health Organization (WHO). To have such a globally respected institution disseminating information about the dangers of asbestos is immeasurably important. We are also featuring the powerful personal story from Heather, our 2019 GAAW Day One Ambassador: “The Value of My Life in Dollars and Tears”

Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, colorectal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers; as well as non-malignant lung and pleural disorders.

Key WHO Facts

  • About 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace.
  • All forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, are carcinogenic to humans.

Although there are an estimated 200,000 asbestos deaths worldwide a year, most people are unaware of its existence and dangers. This is especially problematic because asbestos-caused diseases are 100% preventable — you just have to prevent exposure. Education campaigns by WHO, the Global Ban Asbestos Network (GBAN) , ADAO, and other public health organizations aim to help people learn life saving prevention techniques.

A 2006 WHO paper offered four essential recommendations to eliminating asbestos-related diseases:

  • Recognizing that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos
  • Providing information and incentives for replacing asbestos with safer substitutes
  • Taking measures to prevent exposure to asbestos in place and during asbestos removal (abatement)
  • Improving early diagnosis, treatment, and social and medical rehabilitation for asbestos-related diseases

In 2014, WHO published another useful resource, the Chrysotile Asbestos report, which explains the health risks attached to exposure to chrysotile asbestos. Dispelling the propaganda-fueled myth that deadly chrysotile is a “safe” form of asbestos, the report leaves nothing to the imagination: “exposure to asbestos, including chrysotile, causes cancer.”

As we continue to fight for a global asbestos ban, unbiased scientific institutions like the WHO are crucial in disseminating information and resources to help reduce the risk of asbestos-caused diseases. Be sure to keep up with the latest news and research coming from WHO by connecting with GBAN and ADAO on social media.

Together, we make change happen.

Linda Reinstein

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