April 1 marks the kickoff to 2021 Global Asbestos Awareness Week (GAAW), the 17th annual, weeklong awareness campaign led by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). As with previous years, GAAW will run through April 7.

Largely through community advocacy, GAAW aims to educate global citizens on the health dangers of asbestos, raise awareness of asbestos-related diseases and build momentum toward a national ban on all uses and imports of asbestos in the United States.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that for decades has been used in the manufacturing of thousands of products across a vast number of industries from construction to shipbuilding. Exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Globally, asbestos-related diseases result in more than 200,000 deaths each year.

For 16 years, National Asbestos Awareness Week, part of GAAW, has been federally recognized by the U.S. Congress as an official weeklong awareness campaign.

On introducing the bipartisan legislation to the U.S. Senate this year, Montana Senator Jon Tester remarked,

“Montanans know all too well the dangers of asbestos, but tragically, exposure to this dangerous substance is still far too common. As cleanup continues in Lincoln County, this resolution will help ensure more folks know about the risks of asbestos exposure, and arm them with the information they need to protect themselves from it.”

As GAAW begins, it’s important to remember just how much has changed since March 2020. While the United States has started to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and changed presidential administrations since last year’s GAAW, it remains to be seen what — if any — action will be taken to address the growing and ongoing asbestos problem that exists in the United States.

Global Asbestos Awareness Week — ‘Asbestos: One Word. One Week. One World’

Each year, GAAW carries with it a specific theme. This year’s theme is “Asbestos: One word. One week. One World.”

In an effort to prevent more asbestos-related diseases and deaths, the global community will unite to shine a light on:

  • Banning the mining and use of asbestos
  • Preventing asbestos exposure
  • Increasing compliance and enforcement of existing laws and regulations
  • Strengthening international partnerships

Each country around the world has a role to play in preventing asbestos-related diseases and deaths. The importance of getting the global community to work together on this issue cannot be underestimated, for so long as there remains a market demand for asbestos, its use will not end.

Uniting the global community on this issue is necessary in order to lower the number of lives needlessly lost each year from asbestos. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.

The ADAO’s Week of Advocacy

Since its founding in 2004, ADAO has worked with the U.S. Senate to unanimously pass 16 National Asbestos Awareness Week Resolutions and secure seven U.S. Surgeon General asbestos awareness statements.

With an eye toward global advocacy, ADAO will also be posting its video “Asbestos: The Killer you Can’t See” in 6 different languages: English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, and French. The video will air as follows:

  • April 1: “Asbestos: The Killer You Can’t See” (English)
  • April 2: “एस्बेस्टोस: द किलर आप देख नहीं सकते” (Hindi)
  • April 3: “Asbesto: El Asesino Que No Puedes Ver” (Spanish)
  • April 4: “Асбест: убийца, которого вы не видите” (Russian)
  • April 5: “Amianto: O assassino que você não pode ver” (Portuguese)
  • April 6: “L’amiante: le tueur que vous ne voyez pas” (French)

Alongside its videos, ADAO will also publish a number of personal stories from mesothelioma warriors, including former Simmons Hanly Conroy clients Julie Gundlach and Mike Mattmuller.

On April 7, GAAW will conclude with a candlelight vigil to honor all of the warriors who are currently battling asbestos-related diseases and to remember all those of whom we have lost. Through advocacy efforts and events like Global Asbestos Awareness Week, these individuals will never be forgotten.

It’s Your Turn: Get Involved This Global Asbestos Awareness Week

As Reinstein remarks, “Asbestos claims the lives of over 40,000 Americans every year, yet imports and use continue.” This fact is not only unacceptable, it’s a public health crisis that all too often goes unnoticed and unaddressed.

Standing proudly alongside the ADAO as a platinum sponsor of the organization, Simmons Hanly Conroy encourages everyone to participate in this year’s Global Asbestos Awareness Week by following and contributing to the movement online with the hashtag #2021GAAW.

To get involved on social media, like, post and share educational materials with your own communities.

In addition, you can also contribute to the movement by calling on your state and local politicians to support and promote legislation that would seek to ban asbestos in the United States.

Globally, nearly 70 countries have made the pledge to ban asbestos entirely, including the entire European Union and a majority of industrialized nations. It’s well past time for the United States to follow suit.

Join the conversation online and follow daily content by using #2021GAAW.

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