Sixteen Consecutive Years of Mesothelioma Awareness Day
Every September for the past 15 years, Mesothelioma Awareness Day has taken place. This year marks 16 years of the annual autumn event that aims to educate and inform society about the dangers of asbestos exposure and the fatal cancers associated with it.
Asbestos was a popular building material used throughout the mid-20th century. More than 30 million tons of asbestos were used in industrial facilities, homes, schools, shipyards, steel mills, power plants, and commercial buildings in the United States. Today, it is well known fact that this naturally occurring mineral is a toxic carcinogen responsible for lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, colon cancer, and even throat cancer.
The United States remains on of the few industrialized countries that has yet to ban asbestos, and still uses it regularly in the chlor-alkali industry. While it is illegal to mine asbestos in the United States, it is still able to be imported from other countries to be used in various products.
Throughout the past three decades, attempts to ban asbestos have been met with little success. In 1989 the EPA did ban the substance, but the ruling was quickly overturned by 1991 because of loopholes in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) regarding the economic impact of industry profits. In 2016, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was signed into law, amending Section 6 to the TSCA and allowing the EPA to assess potentially harmful products and chemicals before the products become available to the consumer. By December 2016, the EPA had moved forward in accordance with the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act and named asbestos, as well as nine other chemicals to be reviewed under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) legislation.
Last year, the EPA proposed Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), which is designed to investigate past uses of asbestos. Anti-asbestos advocates strongly believe that this curtails the plan to eventually ban asbestos because it allows asbestos to be used in manufacturing, allows it to be imported, and does not take into consideration the different ways in which people can be exposed (i.e., through contaminated drinking water, air). By July 2019, nearly a dozen states were suing the EPA for their lack of scrutiny on asbestos products in the United States and claim the government agency is purposely overlooking and even ignoring the threat that asbestos poses to communities.
At GPW, we are proud to support Mesothelioma Awareness Day on September 26 and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), which is a non-profit dedicated to treatment support and research of this fatal cancer. Each year the staff at GPW shows their support by fundraising and wearing blue, the color for mesothelioma awareness.
For more information about Mesothelioma Awareness Day and what you can do to help, visit the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation website.