“What the Merchants of Death Won’t Tell You: The Irrefutable Facts about Asbestos” an ADAO PSA

Posted on May 30, 2019

How many Americans think asbestos has already been banned? Between misleading reports about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent significant new use rule (SNUR) and decades of industry propaganda, the number may be higher than you think. From my experience, an estimated 9 in 10 Americans think asbestos has been banned, or at least that it is a so-called “problem of the past.” The merchants of death – those who mine, sell, and use asbestos – have woven a web of deceit. The truth is: asbestos is a known carcinogen, has not yet been banned, and continues to kill.

During the past 15 years, one of the greatest challenges has been to connect this invisible deadly mineral to the health impact from exposure. The three most common questions I’ve been asked are: “What is asbestos? “Where is it?” and “What can I do?”

Through ADAO’s new Public Service Announcement (PSA) video, What the Merchants of Death Won’t Tell You: The Irrefutable Facts about Asbestos,” we have set out to simplify the often complicated and misunderstood issues that surround asbestos. Created in partnership with award-winning illustrator Firdaus Kharas, the film breaks down the questions surrounding asbestos with hand drawn imagery and impactful graphics.

Firdaus Kharas shared, “I am very pleased to strongly encourage banning the import and use of all asbestos throughout the world, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has said “cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs)”. The ADAO has been leading awareness of the dangers of asbestos through human-centred behaviour change communications that are compelling and innovative. I am very pleased to support their efforts wholeheartedly.”

While testifying before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change during its May 8th legislative hearing,  “Ban Asbestos Now: Taking Action To Save Lives And Livelihoods.” we heard the American Chemistry Council (ACC) testify that they have safe methods of importing and using asbestos. This contradicts worldwide medical consensus. It is outrageous that in 2018, the U.S. Chlor-Alkali Industry alone imported 750 metric tons of raw chrysotile asbestos. As illustrated in the PSA, if stacked, these bags would be higher than 43 U.S. Capitol Buildings.

The U.S. ban asbestos movement is strong and there is bipartisan concern in Congress. We’ve heard Members like Representative David McKinley (R-WV) ask EPA Assistant Administrator Alexandria Dunn asked “Why in God’s name do we still use this?”

In fact, Michael Walls, the ACC’s vice president of regulatory affairs, testified before Congress that although ACC’s is opposed to an asbestos ban for their industry, he said, “We certainly are not opposing a ban for all other uses of asbestos.”

The short film also touches on the dangers of legacy asbestos, the increased risk that workers face in this crisis, and, most importantly, what we can all do about it.

It is critically important to educate others, and also direct them toward the ways they can participate in this fight. “Our government must put an end to imports and use to save lives,” the video says. “Tell your Members of Congress to support The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN) TODAY.”  You can support the effort to ban asbestos by contacting your Members of Congress and urge them to cosponsor the bicameral bill.

Please share this illuminating PSA and help us ban asbestos once and for all.

Together, change is possible.

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