It has not happened yet – but the day that asbestos is banned within the United States might be coming closer thanks to the work of Linda Reinstein, head of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). Linda testified at the House of Representatives Subcommitte hearing yesterday over the dated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a bill that was implemented in 1976 and is in dire need of reform as our knowledge of dangerous toxins and carcinogens has expanded profoundly in the last 39 years.
Founded in 2004, ADAO is the largest independent, non-profit organization in America committed to bringing a voice to those hurt by asbestos. Since asbestos-related illnesses in America such as mesothelioma are more rare (albeit fatal and preventable) compared to other cancers, previously, many victims of asbestos and their loved ones felt alone, uninformed, unheard. Now, these individuals have a place to learn more about asbestos, mesothelioma and their treatment options; they have a place to share stories of their loves ones who have passed; they have a place to take action and contribute by helping to educate our communities and government officials on the very serious dangers at hand.
We are saying “they,” but the correct pronoun is we.
With ADAO and the dedicated work of its head Linda Reinstein, we have a place from which we can share our stories, inspire others, start the process of healing and, perhaps most importantly, make sure that this never happens again. Some of this work towards banning asbestos must be done by our government officials who are pushed towards the right path by lawyers who represent those injured by asbestos in court. But the work of lawyers like those at Baron and Budd is incomplete without the testimony and shared stories of those injured by mesothelioma and their loved ones.
Perhaps the most inspiring thing about Linda Reinstein, the ADAO and her testimony at the House Subcommitte yesterday is that Linda is not a lawyer, doctor, scientist, lobbyist or any other figurehead we typically associate with starting the seeds of change within U.S. law. Instead, Linda is simply a widow of mesothelioma. And from that intimate place of experience with the disease, Linda is perhaps the best person to face Washington with her story.
Real change must be made within our government to protect our citizens from asbestos. A ban on asbestos use, manufacturing and importation must be enacted. At this time there is no ban in the current Toxic Chemical Reform Bill. As the Subcommittee reflects on Linda’s testimony we ask them to take a page from Linda’s playbook: House Subcommitee debating the need for TSCA reform, turn your country’s pain into something positive for our future. Ban asbestos so that the people suffering from asbestos-related illnesses are heard; ban asbestos so that the loved ones of people suffering from asbestos-related illnesses may know that their suffering will not go unnoticed. We hope that the nearly four decades it took to consider amending the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 are put to good use, just as Linda turned her personal tragedy into a public service for good. We hope that in the decades to come, there will be no more mesothelioma.
As we all know to well, mesothelioma is an entirely preventable cancer. The problem is we cannot prevent it on our own – we need our public officials to step up and do the right thing for tomorrow.
Now for the best part. Watch Linda’s testimony
To Linda and her team at ADAO, we could not be more proud of you.