An American non-profit organisation is preparing for its 13th annual event, held during the first week of April each year. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation (ADAO) is the largest independent asbestos victims’ organisation in the US. Its aims and objectives are to give victims a united voice, to educate and raise awareness and to push for a global asbestos ban. President Linda Reinstein lost her husband to mesothelioma in 2006.
The number of asbestos-related deaths in the US is broadly similar to those in the UK, despite the vast difference in population size. For example, in 2015 there were around 2600 mesothelioma deaths recorded in the US, compared to around 2500 in the UK in 2013. It may come as a shock to discover that in the US, asbestos continues to be used today in various products such as roofing materials and protective clothing. The ADAO is pressing for an absolute ban, as is the case here in the UK.
Despite the clear health hazards, the use of asbestos remains widespread in developing countries. Russia is the world’s largest exporter and China is the world’s largest consumer of asbestos, helping to feed its huge construction projects. Medical experts are justifiably concerned that the health issues experienced in Europe and the US during the 20th Century and beyond will be repeated, perhaps on a much bigger scale, in those countries yet to ban the use of asbestos.
Asbestos-related illness is often viewed as an ‘old person’s disease’ due to the latency period, but tragically there are rare cases involving much younger sufferers. In the UK, a mother has been diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of just 32 and her solicitors are appealing for witnesses who may be able to shed some light on how she was exposed to the deadly mineral. Kirsty List, from Exeter, believes it took place whilst she was a college student in buildings that have since been refurbished. Miss List has a five year old daughter and is currently receiving hospice care. It is hoped that a successful damages claim will help to provide for her daughter when she no longer can.
Anyone suffering from any of the following symptoms should arrange to see their GP as a priority;
- Persistent pain in the lower back, shoulder, or chest wall
- Shortness of breath
- Appearance of lump or mass on chest wall
- Persistent dry cough
- Coughing up blood
- Loss of energy, fatigue or anaemia
- Losing weight for no apparent reason
- Onset of hoarseness or change in voice
- Persistent swelling of face and/or arms
- Muscle weakness
- Abdominal pain and or distention
- Nausea and or vomiting
This year’s Global Asbestos Awareness Week programme will see experts including the US Surgeon General give talks and share information on the steps everyone can take to help protect their future health. A candlelight vigil is being held in memory of victims, and as a mark of support for those who are currently suffering and their families. As this is a worldwide event, participants in any country can light a ‘virtual candle’ by visiting this website. Full details of events will be added each day to the ADAO’s website and will be trending on twitter using the hashtag #GAAW.