Asbestos Around The World
It should strike you as incredible that despite being one of the world’s most highly developed countries, the United States still has not banned the use and sale of asbestos and asbestos-containing products outright. In fact, 55 countries have passed laws prohibiting the use of asbestos in any form. Yet across America, asbestos can still be bought and sold in products such as roofing and brake shoe linings.
Across our planet, several countries still mine asbestos, exporting it to other nations and using it themselves, to great peril. And even those populations which have banned its use continue to suffer the long term effects of mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. Baron & Budd cannot represent clients outside the United States. However, we thought it might be interesting to take a quick spin around the world to see how its inhabitants are continuing to suffer from exposure to this deadly mineral.
“Mr. Fluffy” – not your child’s cuddly hamster.
A lone man in the city of Canberra, Australia began in the early 1960s to import a particularly deadly form of raw asbestos fiber known as amosite which he picked up at the docks in Sydney. He advertised his loose insulating product as Asbestosfluf, and blew or stuffed the fill into the crawlspaces and attics of newly constructed homes across the Australian Capitol Territory until selling his business and retiring in 1978. A subsequent company owner named the product Mr. Fluffy. Homes contaminated with this carcinogenic substance became known as “Mr. Fluffy homes.”
In the 1980s, Australia waged a substantial campaign to rid itself of asbestos. From 1988 to 1993 a remediation program was conducted to clear more than 8,000 “Mr. Fluffy” homes of their asbestos fiber. Afterward, families returned to their homes, believing they were safe.
But in 2013, government authorities discovered that the remediation teams didn’t – couldn’t – get it all. Residual microscopic amosite fibers had sifted down from attics through the years and settled into the crevices of the homes’ partitions, becoming airborne and entering living spaces whenever a resident remodeled or vacuumed or hung a picture by banging a nail into a wall.
Today, the problem persists. A government task force is expected to recommend wide-scale demolition of contaminated houses after purchasing them from the residents at fair market value, but it doesn’t alleviate the risk to these families of developing an asbestos-related disease years down the road from exposure occurring in a place they believed was a safe haven – their own homes.
Pin the tail on the donkey – and die.
The United Kingdom banned the sale and use of asbestos products in 2000. Like many countries concerned about protecting their populations from continued exposure to asbestos, municipalities across Great Britain took steps to encapsulate and seal asbestos-containing building products used in the construction of schools throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
Unfortunately, the insulation boards used in schools constructed before 1980 are now deteriorating with age, releasing their lethal, microscopic fibers with every tiny penetration, despite encapsulation. Consequently, teachers all over England are being exposed to an estimated 6,000 deadly asbestos fibers every time they pin a child’s artwork to a classroom wall. In fact, the British government’s office of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed in 2012 that 291 teachers have died from mesothelioma since 1980, 177 of those just since 2001. Statistics show that where an average of three teachers died from the dreaded asbestos cancer each year in the 1980s, almost 19 are dying from mesothelioma every year now.
An “International” Call To Action.
A 30-year-old married mother of two has qualified as a contestant in the Mrs. International pageant for 2016. While many beauty pageant contestants focus their public service platforms on children’s education or poverty, Vida Hargrett, of South Florida, USA, has partnered with the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) to speak out against the horrors of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
Mrs. Hargrett chose to raise awareness about mesothelioma and support the movement to get asbestos banned in the United States when her mother-in-law, Patricia Hargrett, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2012. Unable to even pronounce the word mesothelioma when her mother-in-law was first diagnosed, the younger Mrs. Hargrett was shocked to learn that the deadly cancer is caused by a person’s exposure to the toxic mineral asbestos, which was manufactured in numerous building and insulation products across the United States and other countries throughout the last half of the 20th century.
One of the asbestos awareness goals about which Vida Hargrett is most passionate is helping the ADAO convince Congress to pass legislation that would ban the use and sale of all asbestos products in the USA, a mission the mesothelioma lawyers at Baron & Budd are also dedicated to seeing fulfilled. "That would be the home run to hit, getting asbestos banned in this country," Mrs. Hargrett said. With 3,000 people still dying each year across America from asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, we couldn’t agree more.