Posted on September 30, 2019 

Art, Advocacy, and Academia continues!

On November 20, ADAO will be at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health in Toronto, Canada for a screening and discussion of the asbestos documentary, Dirty Laundry. Organized by Dr. Christine Oliver, this is another very exciting “Art, Advocacy, and Academia” screening and discussion which will bring together experts including Paul Demers, PhD, MSc; Ray Copes, MD, MSc; and Robert Dematteo, MA, DOHS to talk about the impact of asbestos exposure on public health. The filmmakers Conor Lewis and Zack Johnson, and I will also join the discussion as participants. 

Canada leads North America having banned asbestos effective December 30, 2018; however, the United States is leading the race to the bottom by allowing raw asbestos and contaminated products to be imported and used every day. In 2017, asbestos-caused diseases claimed the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans, enough to fill the Fenway Park stadium. Yet this deadly carcinogen, which causes a number of cancers and diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestosis, remains legal in the U.S. 

 This film highlights the difficulties and sorrow that families face when they are confronted with a mesothelioma diagnosis. Directed by Lewis and Jonson cousins, the documentary follows the pair as they set out on a cross-country bike ride with a camera crew and a mission: to gather information on the deadly disease that killed their grandmother.

“Our goal at the outset was to make a true and honest film about this problem, told through the lens of our family,” Conor and Zack said. “Ultimately we wanted to tell this story to a whole new generation of home renovators and future change-makers.”

From California to New York—a 4,200 mile bike ride—Conor and Zack interviewed surviving family members, doctors, activists and members of communities in order to reveal the stark reality of corporate disregard for public health and the environment.

Many of our ADAO Warriors and Advisory Board Members were interviewed for the film, including Dr. Courtney Broaddus, Dr. Brad Black, Marilyn Amento, Julie Gundlach, Mike and Jessica Mattmuller, Jordan Zevon, Dusti Rice-Thompson, and others.

Only in the intersection of art, advocacy, education, and community is true change possible. This documentary emphasizes the human suffering caused by asbestos in commerce, and ADAO is honored to be able to spread its message. As we shine a light on our country’s asbestos-problem, we simultaneously encourage support for the bicameral Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act. The 2019 version of ARBAN will save lives by banning asbestos use and importation, without exceptions or exemptions within a year of enactment. 

We know the Dirty Laundry screening and discussion will advance prevention in Canada and the United States. We look forward to being a part of this great event and advancing both knowledge surrounding asbestos and an asbestos ban in order to protect public health.

Together, we can make change happen.

Linda Reinstein

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