December 13, 2011 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 3Comment

[Update 12/15/11 below]

It’s been 3 1/2 years since Leah Nielsen lost her father from mesothelioma. “I took care of my father as he died an excruciating death. He died too young.” This Utah resident wants to protect others from suffering the same kind of horrible death by banning the use and export of asbestos.

Pennsylania resident Barbara Mozuch feels the same way: “My mother died on June 18, 2011 from peritoneal mesothelioma, just seven weeks after being diagnosed!! Something needs to be done.”

Heidi von Palleske of Ontario, Canada explains how asbestos ruined the health and took the lives of both her parents. “They died horrible deaths. Please stop the suffering caused by greed.”

Yvonne Hall of Kentucky lost her 39 year old son to mesothelioma. “We can only speculate on how he was exposed to asbestos sometime in his youth. Asbestos must be banned!”

These are just of few sentiments from the millions of victims worldwide of asbestos-related disease. They are calling on U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to immediately endorse a North American plan to end asbestos-related diseases. Last week the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and Canadian Voices of Asbestos Victims issued a Declaration outlining the nine essential steps to eliminate asbestos exposure and thus asbestos-related diseases. These steps include:

Stopping the North American production and use of all types of asbestos;

Ending the North American export of asbestos to the developing world;

Supporting asbestos producing communities and workers in just transition to sustainable alternative industries;

Taking measures to prevent exposure to asbestos still in place and during asbestos removal and disposal; and

Establishing North American registries of exposure locations and of people with past and/or current exposures to asbestos.

The Declaration reminds us of the deadly consequences of exposure to asbestos, but also of the powerful economic interests that insist on its continued use. All forms of asbestos are known human carcinogens and exposure to them also cause irrerversible fibrotic lung disease. The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 workers die annually from asbestos exposure, and an unknown number develop disease from second-hand exposure (e.g., children exposed from a parent’s work clothes.) Neither the U.S. nor Canada have prohibited the use of asbestos in the production of domestic products, and in the first seven months of 2010 the U.S. imported an estimated 820 metric tons of asbestos, with 90% coming from Canada.

“It is truly unbelievable that the United States continues to defy decades of science confirming asbestos is a human carcinogen,” said Linda Reinstein, ADAO Co-Founder. “As a mesothelioma widow, I find this unacceptable because numerous safer alternatives to asbestos exist.”

ADAO and the Canadian Voices of Asbestos Victims want to gather 10,000 signatures from across the globe on a petition supporting the North American Declaration to Eliminate Asbestos-Related Disease. Add your name to the petition, just like New York resident Antonina Avitabile did. She offered her name in memory of Joe Amento and Patsy Aiello.

[Update 12/15/11: Jim Morris and Chris Hamby with the Center for Public Integrity report today on an Inspector General’s (IG) finding that the EPA permitted companies to use unapproved methods to demolish buildings containing asbestos, allowing the cancer-causing mineral fibers to enter the environment and pose a risk to the workers, their families and communities, as well as EPA employees. The rationale?? To save time and money. I’ll be in touch with Jim Morris to find out if EPA or the contractors have a plan to identify and contact the affected workers. I’d like to know who will make a promise that 20-30-40 years down the road, if any of them develop asbestos-related disease, their medical care will be paid and lost function compensated.]

3 thoughts on “Asbestos victims demand North American ban on use and export of asbestos

  1. This will go down as the worst man made (cultivated) disaster in history. By the time we get a handle on this hundreds of thousands will die. We need to ban asbestos but the more immediate problem is that people are not aware of its use and the fact that we live with it in our home (not regulated). We need to focus more effort on awareness so future generations are aware. Home remodel and renovation, not to mention normal upkeep and repairs are happening every day. We need to let people know that they are causing the disturbances that release the fibers. We are trained to sample everything except wood and metal because must things used in construction could and have been identified as asbestos containing. I talk to people all the time as a non-profit actually reaching out to train or educate the public. I’ve been doing this for over 7 years and the one thing that is clear is that the public has been miss-lead into thinking that asbestos is a thing of the past. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. We still use asbestos and we are finding it in new products as a result. Education is what we need to work harder on. As you learn pass it on. No one is going to go out and remove the asbestos used throughout history. We would be disturbed it in the process causing more exposures and cancer. Test for it and make sure it is maintained and managed. Wall over walls floor over floors…

  2. Hi Charles,
    I agree with you that education is what we need . Several years ago Asbestos was one of the hazardous problems in our community . Hundreds of workers in factories using asbestos are dangerously exposed to its harmful effects. These workers often have no other means and are not unionized. But now a days Technology changes there are company contractors now that are experienced, knowledgeable that we can assure our families safety. I’ve heard about they specializes in asbestos removal.

  3. I came across this article discussing the demands of asbestos victims in North Carolina, and I feel compelled to share my thoughts. Asbestos is a dangerous substance that has caused a significant amount of harm to individuals and their families. It is unfortunate that asbestos has been used in building materials for so long, causing people to unknowingly be exposed to it.

    This an informative article. Thanks for sharing.

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