One of the biggest dangers associated with asbestos is the dire lack of knowledge of the ubiquitous threat it poses to human health. Most people can’t identify asbestos or manage their risk, and I can vouch for this first hand — when my late husband Alan was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2003, neither of us had ever heard of the asbestos-caused disease before. What’s worse, we both were sorely mistaken thinking the known carcinogen had been banned. Needless to say, burying my husband with our then 13-year-old by my side was the hardest way to learn this lesson.
This is why it’s so crucial for us to have real conversations about the dangers of asbestos — for Alan, and for the thousands of Alans and their families who are devastated by asbestos-related diagnoses each day. Each day of GAAW address a different theme or major issue regarding asbestos, and daily ambassador shares their story about how asbestos affected their lives. We are proud to feature the U.K.’s own Mavis Nye as our Day Two Ambassador, sharing her moving story “I fight on for all our Meso Warriors past, present and future.”
The Killer STILL Lurks Amongst Us
The United Kingdom knows the deadly carnage of asbestos all too well. Although asbestos was banned in Britain in 1999, exposure and deaths continue. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Hidden Killer campaign states, “Asbestos can be found in any building built before the year 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) and causes around 5000 deaths every year.” What’s more is that asbestos fibers can be up to 700 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
The Guardian reported “More than 75% of school buildings contain asbestos and many – mostly the huge number built in the three decades after the second world war – are now coming to the end of their useful lives.”
A leader in occupational health and safety, Rory O’Neill, published the Hazard’s March 2016 investigative report, "How the asbestos industry turns to British scientists." O’Neill wrote “Britain has history on asbestos. It has the highest death rates from asbestos cancers in the world. It is also home to some of the industry’s most relied-upon scientists.”
This reminds us that our work does not stop once a ban is in place. It remains crucial for countries with bans to keep raising awareness and educating people about their continued risk of asbestos exposure. GAAW is a great opportunity for advocates from countries both with and without a ban to come together to share strategies and resources.
Join the conversation and be part of the solution by help us spread the word about asbestos. Follow us @environmentales, @linda_ADAO and @McOnieAgency on Twitter and remember to use the hashtag #2017GAAW.
As ADAO says, “Hear Asbestos. Think Prevention.”