This week is National Asbestos Awareness Week

Asbestos exposure is something that people are faced with every day. For decades, people have become victims to mesothelioma, asbestosis and other cancers that are linked to asbestos exposure. Often times, this exposure could have been prevented by manufacturers of asbestos products or employers who hire workers to handle asbestos. In either case, there are steps that could be taken to protect people who come into contact with the dangerous fiber but negligent parties fail to do so.

The repercussions of coming into contact with any level of asbestos can be deadly. In order to raise awareness of this fact and educate people of the dangers associated with asbestos, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization has worked with multiple parties to designate this week, April 1 through April 7, as National Asbestos Awareness Week.

The World Health Organization, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the International Labor Organization have all agreed that asbestos is considered a carcinogen. Given the danger that asbestos presents to those who are exposed, most people would expect that such a hazardous substance would be banned. And while there are 55 countries that ban asbestos, the United States is not one of them according to the ADAO. This means that millions of people continue to be at risk of being exposed to asbestos even though the dangers are well documented.

One of the most upsetting facts about asbestos exposure is that it can take decades for victims to be diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness. In many cases, people are only diagnosed with a disease long after treatment can be effective. Without government intervention, millions of people will continue to be at risk of being exposed to the millions of tons of asbestos that is still commonly found in schools, homes, buildings and factories.

During this week, the ADAO hopes to inform people across the country that asbestos is hazardous. Hopefully, raising awareness will keep people safer and reduce the number of victims of asbestos-related illnesses.

Source: Fort Mill Times, “U.S. Surgeon General Issues Statement on the Dangers of Asbestos in Support of National Asbestos Awareness Week,” April 1, 2013