AMAA applauds ongoing advocacy of the U.S.A ‘Asbestos Diseases Awareness Organisation’

17 September 2018

The Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Association of Australia (AMAA) applauds the ongoing advocacy and tireless efforts of Linda Reinstein, President of the Asbestos Diseases Awareness Organisation (ADAO) based in the United States.  Linda has visited Australia many times and shares her passion, vision and determination to see asbestos banned in America and more importantly the protection of the community from further cases of asbestos related diseases developing in the future through greater community awareness of the dangers of asbestos and appropriate management/removal practices.

Recently, Linda authored an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times addressing the ongoing issue of legacy asbestos in American schools and the safety risk this poses to educational institution staff, parents, visitors/contractors and alarmingly students.  The article, “One-third of American schools still contain asbestos.  That’s unconscionable”, was published on 13 September 2018 and in it Linda states that “Asbestos-related illnesses are not anomalies that pop up every once in a while: About 40,000 Americans die from them each year…”

She continues to highlight the gravity of the situation in noting that 34% of American school buildings contain asbestos and her observation that this may not be adequately addressed while President Donald Trump is in office given his historical views on asbestos, noting:

“Trump himself has professed a love for asbestos in the past, claiming its removal from the World Trade Center was 

the reason the towers fell. “If we didn’t remove incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos & replace it with junk that 

doesn’t work, the World Trade Center would never have burned down,” he wrote on Twitter in 2012.”

The issue as Linda sees it, is that if asbestos containing products are in schools then they must be carefully managed and maintained and at no times should children (or indeed anyone) be at risk of exposure.  She notes recent examples of situations where children and parents were exposed to asbestos due to mishandling of asbestos containing materials while the school was in operation.  Linda further argues that it is imperative to ban asbestos to minimise any further asbestos containing products from being imported – something that Australia led the way in doing when an Australia wide ban on the use of all types of asbestos was introduced in 2003.

AMAA is acutely aware of the ongoing issues of carefully and correctly managing the legacy of asbestos in homes, schools and buildings across Australia.  All too often we are contacted by alarmed workers, families and residents who fear they have been exposed to asbestos through dodgy workmanship or ignorant tradespeople demolishing asbestos containing materials.  While AMAA does not seek to create hysteria or alarm, we concur with the frustration and outrage expressed by Linda in these circumstances as there is simply NO SAFE LEVEL OF ASBESTOS EXPOSURE and NO SAFE TYPE OF ASBESTOS!  There is no way of knowing whether an exposure to asbestos that occurs today will result in the diagnosis of an asbestos related condition until many years have passed which leaves communities, families and individuals left feeling anxious and concerned.  It would be far better if the asbestos wasn’t there in the first place, or where that is not possible, that the asbestos is regulated and handled in a safe and prudent manner.

There are many organisations and institutions working collectively to protect the Australian community from the ongoing legacy of asbestos, and many more advocates overseas (like Linda) who are fighting to protect the innocent from asbestos dangers.  While a lot of work has already been done here in Australia, it is important we continue to educate, advocate and when necessary agitate, to ensure we never get complacent about asbestos, because our lives just might depend on it.

Read the full LA Times article by Linda Reinstein here:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-reinstein-asbestos-in-schools-20180913-story.html#