I’m Finding More and More People Whose Lives Have Been Affected By Mesothelioma. We All Agree That We Want to Do Something About This Disease. What Can Be Done at the Community Level?
There are many different individuals, groups, and entities that support mesothelioma patients and advocate for asbestos safety and reform. For many years, advocacy groups have learned about asbestos hazards and have voiced support for mesothelioma patients, for their families, and for workers who are at risk of developing mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. Several government agencies, and the employees who work within them, are also committed to eradicating asbestos exposure at homes, in schools, and at workplaces across the country. Those government agencies routinely propose new rules and legislation designed to make Americans safer, even if those rules or legislation ultimately cannot take effect due to the strength of business lobbying efforts.
For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for implementing and enforcing workplace safety rules concerning exposure to asbestos and other hazardous materials, and investigating and taking action against employers who fail to comply with safety standards. Similarly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its staff have been working for decades to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products in the United States. As you may already know, the EPA implemented a rule in 1989 that would have banned asbestos products, but a federal court overturned the rule and ultimately limited the EPA’s authority. State lawmakers and federal lawmakers are also committed to asbestos safety measures and advocacy work for mesothelioma patients and their families. Many local and federal lawmakers recognize the need for more research into asbestos-related illnesses including mesothelioma, the need for improved treatment, and the need for mesothelioma patients to have access to a high quality of health care.
Many individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma themselves, or who have a family member or loved one with mesothelioma, want to know how they can take action themselves to help raise awareness about this devastating and preventable disease, and how they can take action to improve the quality of diagnosis, treatment, and care for those who are diagnosed and ultimately die from mesothelioma. There is also substantial interest in many different communities in taking action to encourage lawmakers and federal rule-makers to limit or ban the use of asbestos, shifting the way in which various lobbies continue to exert power when it comes to asbestos safety, mesothelioma, and patients’ rights. What can you do within your local community or at the community level? You should know that the term “community” can be construed both broadly and narrowly, and there are a wide variety of ways in which you can take action in both a global and a local sense.
More precisely, you can take action within your individual workplace and union, you can educate yourself about and raise awareness about lobbying efforts that thwart public knowledge about mesothelioma and asbestos, you can educate yourself and raise awareness about federal regulations and laws designed to limit or ban asbestos, you can get in touch and volunteer with national organizations working on safety campaigns, you can find resources in your home town or county, you can contact your government representatives, and you can encourage your family members and friends to get involved.
Take Action in Your Workplace and with Your Union
You can start taking action by determining safety issues in your own workplace and alerting your union representative to any safety issues concerning asbestos exposure in the workplace. Regardless of whether your workplace is unionized, you may be able to file a complaint with OSHA and may be able to have your workplace investigated for a safety violation. Depending upon the specifics of your workplace, you might file a complaint with your state occupational health organization or you might seek help from the federal OSHA. If you are unionized, your union representative can provide you with more information about filing a claim and often can file the claim on behalf of you and anyone else at your workplace who has been impacted by poor asbestos safety measures.
Learn About Lobbying Efforts and Proposed Federal Regulations
One of the best ways to make an impact in your community when it comes to reducing rates of mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, and increasing the level of care for mesothelioma patients, is to educate yourself about the issues involved. Asbestos exposure and mesothelioma diagnoses have become politicized for various reasons, including concerns from a variety of lobbying efforts that are committed to helping businesses grow despite safety issues and public health. You can help others by educating yourself about these lobbying efforts and learning more about the reasons that the dangers of asbestos exposure are not fully understood by the general public.
You can also educate yourself about proposed rules and regulations that could make schools, workplaces, and consumer product buying safer when it comes to asbestos exposure, learning more about the regulators or lawmakers working to pass these rules and laws, and the reasons that they have been or may continue to be blocked.
Get in Touch with National Organizations Working on Asbestos Safety Campaigns
Many national organizations exist that are non-profits focusing on awareness of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma diagnoses in the United States and across the globe.
For example, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was launched in 2004 “with the goal that asbestos disease victims and their families are never alone. Since its founding in 2004, the organization has done important work in communities across the country, and it “provides educational materials, support, and resources to patients and families around the world.” The non-profit has a variety of awareness campaigns and tools for bringing together mesothelioma patients and their families. Through various campaigns, the organization reports that it has “raised awareness about the dangers of asbestos, while also uniting patients and families for prevention and support.” There are a number of ways you can get involved with ADAO. First, you can participate in the “Share Your Story” awareness campaign, letting others know about “how you or your loved one has been affected by asbestos-caused disease.” You can also attend conferences, light an annual candle in support of those suffering from mesothelioma, subscribe to the organization’s newsletter and share it with others, or make a monetary donation if you are able to do so.
Asbestos Nation is another national organization doing important work to raise awareness and to conduct research into the dangers of asbestos exposure. This organization is connected to the Environmental Working Group and conducts public health research, issues reports, and lobbies on various health and safety issues pertaining to environmental safety.
These are just a couple of examples of larger organizations that bring people together from various regions to work toward common goals of raising awareness about asbestos exposure, mesothelioma, and the need for safety measures.
Get Involved Locally on Asbestos Issues in Your Town or County
You can get involved with local organizations in your own town or county concerning patient health advocacy (especially related to mesothelioma) and workplace safety. Depending upon where you live and how most of the people in your town or county earn a living, there may be various organizations that are already focused on asbestos exposure and workplace safety, while other towns and counties may need you to get these organizations started. You likely have a local chapter of the American Cancer Society where you can also get involved in raising awareness, or getting involved with a support group for others who have been affected by malignant mesothelioma.
In addition to local organizations, you can also write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or write an op-ed in a local publication. Local publications give you a much better chance of getting an opinion piece written and published, especially if you or someone you love has been impacted by asbestos exposure and a mesothelioma diagnosis. As someone with experiential knowledge of a mesothelioma diagnosis, you should know that you have authority to offer your opinion and to focus on the harmful effects of asbestos exposure to the people we love.
Contact Your Local Representatives
You have local representatives, as well as representatives in state and federal government, who you can contact. You are a constituent, and you have a right to have your voice heard. You should contact your representatives, including state and federal representatives, assembly persons, and senators (depending upon your specific state of residence), and you should identify yourself as someone who has been affected by asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Whether you have been diagnosed yourself or a loved one has been diagnosed, you should inform your representatives about your experience and urge them to fight for stricter rules, regulations, and laws to limit asbestos exposure and to provide remedies to patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Ask Your Friends and Family Members to Join You
Do not hesitate to ask your family members and friends to join you in raising awareness and getting involved in advocacy work in your community. The more people who understand the dangers of asbestos exposure and advocate for better safety measures and patient care, the more the circumstances will improve. It is not out of the question that asbestos could be fully banned in the United States and that mesothelioma patients could be entitled to a wide-scale remedy for the harms associated with asbestos exposure from years or even decades ago.