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When we moved to the US three years ago there were many changes to deal with. The expected upheaval caused by an overseas move and the emotional wrench of leaving home.
But also all the complicated and confusing and unexpected challenges that moving to a new country brings.
Bureaucracy, bank accounts, ID numbers, insurance… the list felt endless. And, for a while every day brought something new.
When we took our children to register with their pediatrician, our three year old was immediately sent for lead screening. This came as a surprise to us, not being something we had experienced in the UK. But, with the age of most homes, and the prevalence of lead paint still present, lead screening at one, two and three years old is standard.
How proactive, I thought.
Then, after two years we decided to move house and I was surprised to discover a disclosure listed on several properties. Asbestos sidings present.
As someone who worked in the construction industry in the UK for almost twenty years, I am very aware of the dangers associated with asbestos.
I know that these sidings, while undamaged and inert pose no imminent threat, what concerned me was the risk of damage and release of asbestos dust and fibers. Not a huge day-to-day concern perhaps, but a very real one. Any refurbishment works would be accompanied by a big health warning and with young children, not a risk we were going to take.
We took these properties off our potentials list.
This lead me to wonder at the presence of asbestos in general and I was shocked to discover that asbestos is not banned in the US and worse, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 700,000 schools in the US still contain asbestos insulation.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day
This coming Saturday, 26 September 2015, is Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Mesothelioma is the most common form of cancer associated with asbestos and each year 3,000 new people are diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. Of those 3,000 victims, only a small percentage will live to celebrate 5 years of survival, in fact most patients are given 10 months to live.
On average, about 2,500 mesothelioma-related deaths occur in the U.S. each year. Between 1999 and 2010, more than 31,000 people in the U.S. died due to mesothelioma. From 1999 to 2010, the number of people who died each year in the U.S. from mesothelioma as an underlying or contributing cause increased by 10%.
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance
In 2005, at the age of 36, just three months after giving birth to her daughter, Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and given 15 months to live. Refusing to give up, she underwent ground breaking surgery and is soon to be a ten-year survivor. She has devoted her life to spreading awareness of the dangers of asbestos, sharing hope, and supporting others on their path towards a cancer-free life.
Join her on 26th September to raise awareness by donating your social status using #MesoAwarenessDay.