Mesothelioma Awareness Day, established by Meso Foundation community members, will take place on September 26 for the 13th year in a row. The campaign is designed to bring awareness and funding to mesothelioma, a disease that claims the lives of thousands each year. The disease has a mortality rate of nearly 64 percent within one year.
Congress passed the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce the use of asbestos and currently, asbestos has been limited to less than one percent of all products. However, those exposed to asbestos in the past are still at risk because mesothelioma symptoms may not surface for many years. It is estimated that 20 million people will develop mesothelioma in their lifetimes.
Workers in certain dustries are at an increased risk of exposure. Construction workers are exposed to asbestos in cement, roofing shingles and other materials commonly used in the industry. Also, shipyard workers who were exposed to asbestos in gaskets and boiler components years ago are at an elevated risk of contracting the disease. Other high-risk occupations include firefighters, mechanics and railroad workers.
Groups involved in Mesothelioma Awareness Day such as Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization seek to spread awareness of the deadly disease and its preventability. They urge further regulation of the asbestos industry, more clinical trials and increased funding for medical studies. Other countries have implemented an outright ban on the use of asbestos and the groups believe that the United States should follow suit.
People interested in participating are encouraged to contribute to the ADAO-hosted Twitter chat on September 26. They may also spread awareness by wearing blue, carrying Cure Mesothelioma signs and taking photos to post on social media.