Montana has been particularly hard hit by asbestos and the diseases it causes, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. In the small town of Libby, more than 300 people have died from asbestos related complications, which is astonishingly high for a town of less than 3,000 residents.
To honor those in Libby and elsewhere who have felt the direct effects of asbestos exposure, Montana Senator Max Baucus has successfully rallied his colleagues in Washington and passed a resolution designating the first week of April as “Asbestos Awareness Week” here in the United States.
This year, Asbestos Awareness Week will be held between April 1 and April 7. Senator Baucus told KPAX-TV, “Asbestos Awareness Week is a rallying cry to keep the tragedy of Libby from happening again. It’s also an opportunity to remind people that much more work lies ahead to help victims of asbestos-related diseases.”
Baucus was the driving force behind the EPA’s declaration of its first ever public health emergency in Libby. “Although we can never fully right the outrageous wrong that took place in Libby, we can fight to make sure the community has the tools it needs to heal. And, we can keep working hard to make sure the public is aware of the tragic impact of asbestos exposure,” he said.
Asbestos Awareness Week is a good time to look back on this deadly substance and the industry that supported it for more than a century. Here are some key facts on asbestos in the United States and around the world.
- Over a 20-year period, studies estimate that there were more than 230,000 asbestos-related deaths from diseases including mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and gastrointestinal cancer
- Despite the known health risks, asbestos remains legal in the United States
- The USGS estimates that in 2010, 1,040 metric tons of asbestos were consumed in the United States
- In 2010, more than 2 million tons of asbestos were consumed globally
It’s time to stop this shameful industry. Join our fight; ban asbestos now.