Each year, in the first week of April Asbestos Awareness Week is observed. On March 13, the U.S. Senate passed Resolution 66, officially recognizing Asbestos Awareness Week. Asbestos is the name given to naturally occurring materials that are poor conductors of heat and do not conduct electricity, making the mineral a versatile material for use in a number of building, manufacturing and commercial applications. Unfortunately, asbestos is also a dangerous and deadly material, and has been linked to a number of cancers including mesothelioma.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation recognizes the importance of raising awareness about the hazards of asbestos to prevent future exposures in hopes that one day we will eradicate mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is known to be caused by exposure to asbestos, and the latency period for the disease can be 10-60 years. That means that even if the use of asbestos ended today, we would not see the last case of mesothelioma for a very long time.
Asbestos can still be found in the United States in our homes, offices, public buildings and in our automobiles. Asbestos can be released into the air when structures containing asbestos are disturbed. This means that during national disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy or the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, huge amounts of asbestos are released into the atmosphere and exposure is imminent. It also means that there is danger of exposure when you are doing home improvement projects. If you suspect there is asbestos in your home, it is best to leave it alone and have it inspected by a trained and accredited asbestos removal professional. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists the following places where asbestos can be found:
- Attic and wall insulation produced containing vermiculite
- Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
- Roofing and siding shingles
- Textured paint and patching compounds used on wall and ceilings
- Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets
- Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
- Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets with asbestos insulation
- Heat-resistant fabrics
- Automobile clutches and brakes[i]
It is important that we continue to raise awareness about asbestos and the existing risk of exposure here in the United States. Until we do abolish the use of asbestos and eradicate mesothelioma, the Meso Foundation stays dedicated to funding peer reviewed research, providing support to patients and their loved ones and advocating for an increased federal investment in mesothelioma research.
Learn more about asbestos on our website: