While every victim of mesothelioma is someone’s hero, when a well-known public figure loses their battle with this disease, it provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the known, devastating effects of asbestos exposure.
One interesting, high-profile case was the recent passing of Malcolm McLaren, the former manager of the Sex Pistols and a pioneer of the punk rock movement. McLaren was exposed to asbestos decades ago when he destroyed walls and ceilings in his shop with a sledge hammer in the hopes of creating the impression a bomb went off in the building.
But as Jeremy Laurance illustrated in an article in The Independent (UK), there are powerful messages being missed here – namely that “if mesothelioma killed instantly, this would have been headline news. But because it killed slowly, the horror has been missed.”
The world’s asbestos problem is far from solved, even in countries like the UK and Australia where the material is banned, but asbestos-related diseases are still relatively common. Despite the fact that asbestos-related diseases kill more than 10,000 Americans annually and the U.S. government has openly recognized the cancer-causing health-risks of asbestos, the material is still used in this country. Some sources predict that diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases will actually increase in coming years due to our past dependence and use of asbestos.
So why is there still a noticeable lack of awareness about the dangers of asbestos? Why is there no urgency in Congress to ban asbestos?
Whether it’s a working-class family who was exposed to asbestos at work or a celebrity like McLaren who unknowingly altered his own future, we need to take action now rather than wait for responses that might never come.
On behalf of victims everywhere, let’s all take a moment to sign a letter to Congress urging them to hear our voices, protect our families and BAN!