National Asbestos Awareness Week kicks off for 2014

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Apr 2, 2014

ARLINGTON, Va. (Legal Newsline) - While people across the country were busy tricking family, friends and co-workers with April Fools pranks on Monday, those affected by asbestos diseases began a week dedicated to prevention of asbestos-related illnesses as part of the National Asbestos Awareness Week 2014.



The 10th annual National Asbestos Awareness Week runs from April 1 through April 7 and focuses on how asbestos impacts health, the environment and the economy.

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) presents the week as a seven-day campaign to raise awareness and prevent future deadly exposures, which began with President and Co-Founder Reinstein sharing the latest facts and stats about asbestos mining, manufacturing and commerce on Monday in "Asbestos: Legal and Lethal in the USA."

Reinstein points out that the World Health Organization estimates that about 107,000 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases. She also recognizes that more than 50 countries have banned asbestos, but the U.S. and Canada have not.

Tuesday, Dr. Richard Lemen,, ADAO Scientific Advisory Board Co-Chair, will explain where asbestos is found and who could be in danger of exposure in "Asbestos: What is it?"

On Thursday, Dr. Arthur Frank, ADAO Scientific Advisory Board Co-Chair, will share information about what people should do if they are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease in "Why is Asbestos Bad for My Health?"

On Friday, Dr. Ken Takahashi, scientist and Acting Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health in Japan, will present information on tackling asbestos-related diseases in "Toolkit for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases."

On Saturday, several "mesothelioma warriors," as ADAO calls them, will share their stories.

On Sunday, the U.S. Surgeon General will share statements.

The National Asbestos Awareness Week will conclude on Monday with a Declaration for Worldwide Asbestos Ban and asbestos victims candlelight vigil, remembering those sickened by asbestos-related diseases.

The week was established when the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 336 on Jan. 16, which was led by former Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.. The resolution designated one week dedicated to raising awareness about asbestos-related diseases and dangers of asbestos exposure.

Baucus is now the ambassador to China.

"Senator Caucus' legacy of leadership as an advocate for asbestos awareness and education is unmatched," Linda Reinstein stated in a press release. "As a mesothelioma widow, I am forever indebted to him for playing such an important role in shaping a new era of asbestos awareness and advocacy for victims and their families."

Baucus also took part in the recent declaration by the Environmental Protection Agency announcing a public health emergency in Libby, Mont.

"With the people of Libby in mind, I am honored to sponsor the Asbestos Awareness Week resolution. Although we can't right the tragic wrong that took place in Libby, Asbestos Awareness Week makes sure folks have the resources and tools they need to keep the tragedy of Libby from happening again," Baucus stated.

The toxic situation in Libby, Mont., played a large role in W.R. Grace & Co's 13-year asbestos bankruptcy due to environmental damages and contamination from the vermiculite mining operation. Vermiculite, a mineral used for insulation, was mined in Libby for more than 30 years, exposing residents and miners to asbestos daily.

According to its bankruptcy settlement order, Grace & Co. was found liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act "for response costs and natural resource damages incurred and to be incurred by the Settling Federal Agencies in the course of responding to releases and threats of releases of hazardous substances into the environment."

In response to the environmental damage and contamination, the Environmental Protection Agency filed claims against the company in March 2003 for past and future cleanup efforts at locations contaminated by vermiculate, asbestos and other toxic substances.

As part of the National Asbestos Awareness Week, ADAO will hold its Tenth Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference from Friday-Sunday in Arlington, Va., where medical experts and asbestos victims from several countries are expected to speak about advances in asbestos disease prevention, mesothelioma treatments and global ban asbestos advocacy.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Heather Isringhausen Gvillo at asbestos@legalnewsline.com

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