Meet PATIENT ADVOCATE Susan Vento of The Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign (ACVRC), a national campaign dedicated to protecting the rights of asbestos victims, making sure they and their families are protected in seeking compensation, and opposing legislation that seeks to roll back their rights. At the end of this article written by the ACVRC, I’ve listed some incredible resources to help anyone touched by mesothelioma, the cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
“Now that summer is in full swing, people are jumping into their long-awaited plans, projects, and warm weather activities. Though this season is characteristically carefree, there is great risk of coming into contact with invisible carcinogenic hazards, asbestos specifically, that can severely compromise your long-term health.
As a result of the widespread and historical use of asbestos, many common summer hobbies and recreational activities come with an unforeseen risk of exposure. According to the World Health Organization, more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases. Before you embark on any of the following summer activities, your awareness of how you could potentially expose yourself to asbestos is crucial.
DIY & DEMOLITION
Summer is the season when homeowners often decide to dust off their do-it-yourself gloves. Roughly three quarters of homeowners are planning to work on home improvement projects this year, and according to the EPA, over 35 million homes in the U.S. contain asbestos, making any of these projects potentially dangerous.
Within the home, asbestos may be found in places like attic and wall insulation, vinyl flooring, hot water pipes, and textured paint on walls and ceilings. When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed or damaged, the microscopic fibers become airborne which can then be inhaled into the lungs, causing disease. If you drill, cut, saw, hammer, or move anything in your home that may contain asbestos without proper inspection, you’re putting you and your loved ones at great risk.
EXPLORING ABANDONED BUILDINGS
In the summer, children are known to explore abandoned or demolished properties including buildings, railroad tracks, factories, and vehicles. If your child rummages through these neglected and unregulated areas, they will be at great risk for coming into contact with and disturbing asbestos-laden materials, breathing in its lethal dust. Take the time to sit with your kids and educate them about these hidden dangers, while also providing suggestions for fun alternative adventures.
GARAGE SALES & ANTIQUING
In addition to the building materials already discussed, many household items and appliances were commonly manufactured with asbestos prior to the early 1980s. When on the hunt for garage sales, flea markets, and antique shops, avoid purchasing vintage-looking commodities such as heat-resistant fabrics, auto parts, and stove top ovens. There are even oven mitts, irons, and ironing boards that were once marketed specifically because they were made with asbestos. Consult a “Safe Antiques” guide before your next excursion to ensure you won’t mistakenly invite anything made with asbestos into your home.
As a result of geological processes, naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) can be found in soil and rock which can then be disturbed by natural weathering and human activity. When digging and tilling gardens in areas potentially containing NOA, asbestos mineral fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, or tracked into the home on clothing and shoes. To locate NOA areas and ensure your gardening project is a safe endeavor, start by consulting the U.S. Geological Survey reports and contact a state geologist.
CAMPING & BONFIRES
Many people use camp and bonfires for discarding old cabin or household scraps, or they simply enjoy finding nearby, useless materials to burn. However, what you may not realize is that the materials you choose to burn could contain toxic asbestos, which again, becomes lethal when broken down and inhaled. For example, in the UK last year, a group of young people unknowingly built a bonfire using asbestos-laden roofing sheets. Rather than risking your health, keep to using organic materials such as sticks or paper.
Your greatest form of protection this summer is knowledge. Educating yourself and your family on the dangers of asbestos exposure and spreading awareness is your greatest tool at reducing your risk. For many, however, taking these precautions and becoming aware is, tragically, no longer an option. However, there are ways you can help to lessen and prevent further pain for the individuals and families affected. The FACT Act, allegedly intended to promote transparency and prevent fraudulent asbestos claims, in reality invades the privacy of victims and their families, while the companies that victimized them in the first place are left untouched. Ultimately, the FACT Act protects asbestos companies while further victimizing those already suffering. Help support those who have suffered from asbestos by signing our petition. Together, we can help ensure everyone has the safest summer possible and prevent the furthered suffering of asbestos victims.”
If you or anyone you know has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, consider connecting with these organizations dedicated to assisting mesothelioma victims and their families. These organizations can help you find the best doctors, treatments and information about mesothelioma.
The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance
The Mesothelioma Center