The nonprofit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) welcomed the recent statement by Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, concerning the dangers of asbestos. His statement was given at the close of the recent Global Asbestos Awareness Week, an educational and awareness-building annual event.
Exposure to asbestos, a group of minerals that occurs naturally as fiber bundles in soil and rocks, is the leading cause of malignant mesothelioma, especially pleural mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that starts in the specialized cells that line body organs and structures.
“National Asbestos Awareness Week is April 1-7 — a good time to remind Americans about the health dangers of asbestos exposure. Asbestos, a natural mineral fiber that is found in rock and soil, was widely used as insulation and fireproofing material in homes, commercial buildings, ships and other products, such as paints and car brakes,” reads an excerpt from Dr. Murthy’s statement. “Because of its use in so many products, asbestos is still of special concern for anyone who works in construction — or who might be in a position to disturb asbestos found in older homes, buildings or equipment.”
He also encouraged people concerned about such exposure “to speak to your health care professional.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 125 million people worldwide are thought to have been exposed to asbestos at the workplace.
Global Asbestos Awareness Week, a worldwide event whose 2016 theme was “Hear Asbestos. Think Prevention,” aims to educate about asbestos and reduce exposure risks through informative and training resources, guest blogs, videos, and asbestos victims’ stories.
“We’ve been sponsoring these weeks for more than a decade and this year, we’re honored to be able see it culminate with such an important message from our U.S. Surgeon General about the risks associated with asbestos exposure and how widely used it has been,” Linda Reinstein, the ADAO’s co-founder and president, said in a news release. “We are hopeful that this key message will further underscore the need to implement a ban here in the U.S. and globally. One day, I know we will see an end to the tragedy of asbestos related disease, and we thank Vice Admiral Murthy for his role in helping to influence this milestone.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 10,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos fibers, if inhaled, can deposit in the lungs, small airways and the pleural lining, causing severe damage and leading to mesothelioma. Exposure is also known to cause lung, gastrointestinal, colorectal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers.