Each year, the first week of April is dedicated to raising awareness about asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that has been linked to diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. The latter is a rare and aggressive cancer that forms in the lining of an organ, most often that of the lungs, but it can also develop around the heart and abdomen. Asbestos becomes a risk to health when the material is disturbed and broken into small particles that can easily become airborne and inhaled. Global Asbestos Awareness Week is important because these diseases are completely preventable, and the best way to protect yourself is through education.
So where can asbestos still be found? Currently asbestos is not entirely banned in the United States and can still be found in a variety of products, including potting soil, vehicle parts, and insulation. A current list of allowable uses of asbestos can be found here, but the greatest risk for exposure comes from products installed prior to federal regulations taking effect. The CDC reports that “Current exposures to commercial asbestos in the United States occur predominantly during maintenance operations and remediation of older buildings containing asbestos.” This can impact people working in construction, demolition, plumbing, and the shipbuilding or repair industries, to name a few. And unfortunately even though asbestos is regulated, younger people are still developing asbestos-related illnesses.
Things you can do:
- Post on social media using #GAAW or #2017GAAW to help raise awareness
- Identify possible sources of exposure in your life and understand the risk
- If you have an older home (built before 1970) it might be worthwhile to have your house checked for asbestos, especially before beginning any home renovations
- Express concern to your elected officials
Although asbestos is regulated, it is not entirely banned in the United States. However, the EPA announced in the fall of 2016 that it will review ten chemicals for potential future regulation, and asbestos was included in that list.
If you’d like more information or updates on asbestos and mesothelioma, check out the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center.
*Content from the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center. UPHE is helping to share this information.