Poor decisions made by companies decades ago still haunt many of the former workers today. Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was used in car brakes and clutches, insulation, ceiling and floor tiles, roof shingles and many other construction materials. Now, in 2016, thousands of people who worked with those products are fighting for their lives as they battle mesothelioma, a deadly cancer. This is why Sept. 26, Mesothelioma Awareness Day, is so important to Americans: to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization have spent countless hours educating the public, as well as U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen about the tragedy of mesothelioma. They listened, and in 2010 designated September 26 as Mesothelioma Awareness Day in the United States.
Following are some of the key facts about the deadly cancer from an excerpt of the Congressional Declaration establishing the day as a time to raise the public’s awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure:
- Whereas mesothelioma is a terminal, asbestos-related cancer that affects the linings of the lungs, abdomen, heart, or testicles;
- Whereas workers exposed on a daily basis over a long period of time are most at risk, but even short-term exposures can cause the disease and an exposure to asbestos for as little as one month can result in mesothelioma 20-50 years later;
- Whereas asbestos was used in the construction of virtually all office buildings, public schools, and homes built before 1975 and asbestos is still on the United States market in over 3,000 products;
- Whereas millions of workers in the United States have been, and continue to be, exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos;
- Whereas the National Cancer Institute recognizes a clear need for new agents to improve the outlook for patients with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases;
- Whereas mesothelioma has claimed the lives of such heroes and public servants as Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., and Congressman Bruce F. Vento, and a high percentage of today’s mesothelioma victims were exposed to asbestos while serving in the United States Navy;
- Whereas for decades, the need to develop treatments for mesothelioma was overlooked and today, even the best available treatments usually have only a very limited effect and the expected survival time of those diagnosed with the disease is between 8 and 14 month.
Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer that often takes decades to rear its ugly head. After microscopic airborne asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they lay dormant, festering in the body for years as they lead to inflammation, and in some cases, cancer.
Americans need to understand that the only way to prevent mesothelioma is by not being exposed to the toxic mineral in the first place. There are specific regulations and guidelines in place to protect workers and the public when asbestos is present. There are also stiff fines for those who fail to adhere to the requirements.
Do your part on Sept. 26, and every day, to educate your friends, family and neighbors about the dangers of asbestos. Visit curemeso.org to find out more about how you can help.