U.S. Surgeon General Applauds ADAO Supporters for Global Fight to End Asbestos Diseases

On April 4-6, 2014, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) held its 10th Annual Asbestos Awareness Conference in Washington, D.C. The three-day event brought together people living with asbestos diseases and the families of those who lost their battles, as well as experts in environmental science, advocacy, public health, and medicine.

Since its inception 10 years ago, ADAO has become a leading advocate of public health and environmental safety, but founder Linda Reinstein, who delivered the conference’s opening remarks, said that she is saddened that the fight to ban asbestos will continue into the organization’s second decade. Although asbestos diseases kill nearly 10,000 people every year, the toxin remains legal and lethal in the United States. In fact, speakers at the conference revealed that the U.S. imports more than 1,000 metric tons of asbestos.

Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak delivered the keynote speech, where he lamented the continued use of asbestos in the United States. He also affirmed the essential role that citizens, especially those attending ADAO’s conference, play in protecting public health from asbestos by raising awareness of the danger and advocating for a ban on the toxin.

In a message to attendees, Ms. Reinstein said that the time has come for Congress to enact a complete ban on asbestos. “That is the only way we can hope to end this inexcusable epidemic.”

Asbestos is the quintessential example of corporations knowingly marketing deadly products in the pursuit of profits. The asbestos industry knew of the dangers associated with exposure by 1934 and attempted to cover-up this wrongdoing and deny justice to victims. Now, years after the civil justice system uncovered internal industry documents that reveal a breathtaking disregard for human life, corporations continue their attempts to evade accountability by covering-up the dangers of asbestos, vilifying the victims, misleading the public with propaganda and working to limit accountability through state and federal legislation.

Thanks to the extraordinary advocacy of ADAO, asbestos victims will have their voices heard by the public and lawmakers to help ensure that corporations will continue to be held accountable for this preventable public health disaster.