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U.S. Surgeon General affirms danger of asbestos exposure during National Asbestos Awareness Week

Just in time for the National Asbestos Awareness Week, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said today that “… there is no level of asbestos exposure that is known to be completely safe.” 

National COSH joins the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) in applauding the Surgeon General and in urging “all Americans to learn about the dangers of asbestos exposure and to understand the steps they can take to protect their health.”

Every day, nearly 30 Americans die from a preventable asbestos-caused disease, yet asbestos is still prevalent in many homes, schools, workplaces, and in our environment.

“More than 10,000 Americans die every year from preventable diseases, yet exposure continues. It is unacceptable to have young students at a Middleburg Heights, Ohio schoolHurricane Sandy victims, or workers repairing city water mains in Houston, Texas exposure,” stated Linda Reinstein, ADAO Co-Founder and President.

ADAO has been working with Congress and the White House since 2004 to prevent asbestos exposure in efforts to eliminate deadly asbestos-related diseases.  The 9th annual Senate Resolution 66, designating April 1 – 7 as National Asbestos Awareness Week includes a chilling list of facts about the dangers of asbestos.

Additionally, the Safe Chemicals Act (S. 847) – championed by Sens. Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg – would essentially reverse the burden of proof on chemical safety. Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must prove a chemical is unsafe to ban its use. Under the Safe Chemicals Act, chemicals would have to be proven to be safe before they could be used. 

“The time is now for Congress to begin the steps to reduce and eventually stop asbestos imports and ban asbestos,” Reinstein said. “Fifty-five countries have banned asbestos but the U.S. is not one of them. Millions of tons of asbestos remain in US homes, schools, offices, and factories. The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported that in 2012, US asbestos consumption was 1,060 tons in order to meet ‘manufacturing needs.’ There is consensus from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, World Health Organization, International Labor Organization, and International Agency for Research on Cancer that asbestos is a carcinogen and there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.”

As part of Asbestos Disease Awareness Week, ADAO will present new information each day to educate about asbestos diseases, raise awareness of the Safe Chemicals Act, and work together to pass the legislation and prevent toxic exposures.

Below is a schedule for Global Asbestos Awareness Week. Please note that the links included in the below schedule will not be live until the date listed.

National COSH and ADAO urge you to share these stories with your communities – through email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other method – to highlight the critical need to prevent needless exposure to a known human carcinogen.

And you can start with the Surgeon General’s statement of support (full text available here).

  • April 1: Linda Reinstein, "7 Facts for 7 Days" and open with Candlelight Vigil to honor the Warriors fighting asbestos disease and remember those we have lost.
  • April 2: Dr. Richard Lemen, "Asbestos: What Is It?" ADAO Science Advisory Board Co-Chair explains where asbestos is found and who might be in danger of being exposed.
  • April 3: Dr. Arthur Frank, "Why Is Asbestos Bad for My Health?" ADAO Science Advisory Board Co-Chair shares information about what you should do if you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.
  • April 4: 2013 Statement from the U.S. Surgeon General.  Surgeon General Regina Benjamin stated “all Americans to learn about the dangers of asbestos exposure and to understand the steps they can take to protect their health.”
  • April 5: Renae Desai and Linda Reinstein "Share Your Story: The Power of Community" 
  • April 6: Dr. V. Courtney Broaddus, "Partnering for Prevention," ADAO works with individuals, organizations, and institutions around the world. Seven countries were represented at our 2013 conference. We are proud to feature Dr. Courtney Broaddus’s slide presentation Asbestos and its Toxic Relationship to the Pleura: Update and Future Concerns, which addresses the impact of asbestos from the US to Canada to Turkey to Australia. V. Courtney Broaddus, MD is currently the Chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the San Francisco General Hospital and the John F. Murray Distinguished Professor of Medicine.
  • April 7: Linda Reinstein, "Taking Education to the Digital Streets every Sunday for #BanAsbestosNow Action" and close with Candlelight Vigil to honor the Warriors fighting asbestos disease and remember those we have lost, as we finish Global Asbestos Awareness Week in unity.
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