Sunday, March 2nd, 2008.
CNN’s recent expose on asbestos in children’s toys demonstrates the shocking reality that the deadly carcinogen is virtually everywhere in our environment.
For decades, asbestos was used heavily in Navy ships and shipyards; in workplaces; in common building materials including drywalls, flooring, roofing materials, and cement pipes; in automotive products like brake pads; and even in common consumer products like hair dryers. As a result, the carcinogen has permeated our homes, offices and schools. The EPA estimates that one asbestos product alone — a highly toxic "vermiculite" insulation — is present today in 35 million U.S. homes.
Tens of millions of Americans have already been exposed to asbestos, whether they knew it or not. Ten thousand Americans are now dying each year from past exposures that are too late to prevent. Deadly exposures will continue long into the future, because of all the asbestos already in our environment and the impossibility of remediating it. The tragedy of 9/11 demonstrates the continued, long-term threat. Estimates of the amount of asbestos released around Manhattan range as high as 1,000 tons. The impact pulverized the asbestos material into microscopic, easily respirable fibers to which the firefighters, rescue workers and other heroes were exposed. In the ensuing months, workers, residents and school children in the area continued to be exposed.
For all those who are now sick, who have already been exposed and are at risk, or who will inevitably be exposed in the future, the only hope is research now to develop effective medical treatments. But research on the asbestos-cancer, mesothelioma, lags far behind other cancers. As a result of the limited treatment options, most mesothelioma patients die within one year of diagnosis.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) therefore is dedicated to promoting the research critically-needed to develop treatments for mesothelioma. As the nation’s only independent, scientifically-based source of private mesothelioma research funding, The Meso Foundation has awarded over $5 million in research grants to stellar projects around the world.
Additionally, through The Meso Foundation’s advocacy, research funding for asbestos-related diseases has been included in the "Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act" which is currently in the hands of Congress. A strong effort on the federal level is needed now to develop treatments for asbestos-cancer. Says, Meso Foundation Executive Director Chris Hahn, "We have accomplished a lot with limited, private funding. It is time for the federal government to partner with us in the search for a cure before more lives are lost."