By Linda Reinstein, Asbestos
Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) Co-Founder
Picture: Linda with her daughter and husband Alan.
The time is now for the Senate to unanimously
support the passage of the Safe Chemicals Act (S.847). We need to do more to protect our
children from BPAs, fire retardants and other dangerous toxins in our world.
What many don’t realize is that asbestos is still legal and lethal in the
United States, tragically impacting families. I know because it happened to us.
I remember the day when
my husband Alan
was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma as if it were yesterday. We had never heard of mesothelioma, and
we were devastated when we learned that there is no cure. Our daughter was only ten years old when
we began our arduous family battle to fight mesothelioma and work with Congress
to ban asbestos.
Alan, an avid marathon
runner, transformed into an invalid within just a few years. The average life
span of a person with mesothelioma is only 9 months. Courageously, Alan battled
mesothelioma, which entailed radical surgeries and chemotherapy in hopes of more time
with his family. He spent his last year tethered to oxygen 24 hours a day as
mesothelioma tortuously ravaged his body. As a result of asbestos exposure,
Alan died three years after diagnosis with our then 13-year-old-daughter and me
by his side.
Fueled by my intense
grief, I turned my anger into action by co-founding the Asbestos Disease
Awareness Organization (ADAO) in
In the United States,
more than 10,000 Americans die each year from preventable asbestos-caused
diseases, including an estimated 5,000 Americans who die from asbestos-caused
lung cancers and 2,500 who die from mesothelioma.
“History is a great teacher to those who listen, but is Congress listening?”
In 1989, the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) issued a
final rule banning most asbestos-containing products; however, in 1991, this
regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Don’t be fooled –
consumer, environmental, and occupational exposure continues in the United
States. In August 2012, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the U.S. consumed 1,180
metric tons of asbestos in 2011, which is a 13% increase from 2010.
There is nothing funny
about mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases; however, as a
mesothelioma widow and ADAO co-founder, I enjoyed The Daily Show with Jon
Stewart’s powerful segment “Ored to Death.”
Aasif Mandvi asks Bernard Coulombe, a top Jeffrey asbestos mine executive from Canada, a simple
question: “Does ‘asbestos’ mean something different in French than it does in
English? Because in English it means slow, hacking death.” I encourage you to
spend five minutes to watch the video and share it with your networks.
ADAO proudly stands with Safe Chemicals, Healthy Families and hundreds of public health,
environmental, and business groups that have come together to support S.847, which
would impose stricter regulations on toxic chemicals, including asbestos.
For each life lost, a
shattered family is left behind.
Our grief is overwhelming, like that of so many other families. We
cannot forget hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have paid
the ultimate price for asbestos exposure – their lives. We cannot forget their
children, including my daughter, who will always miss their fathers and mothers.
As I remind Congress,
“together, change is possible.” Join me and take