The month of September came to an end with two awareness days that shared a common message: What’s in the air we breathe matters.
Sept. 25 marked the first World Lung Day, and Sept. 26 marked the 13th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Both days aimed to bring awareness to environmental and occupational lung diseases. Unfortunately, our lungs carry a heavy burden when it comes to toxic exposure – often carrying the brunt of the issues it causes.
“World Lung Day is a rallying point for advocacy related to respiratory health and air quality,” a release from the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) stated. “Lung disease is the only major chronic disease group that does not yet have a World Day. World Days can be important reminders of things we take for granted – we cannot live without breathing, and air quality is critical to our health and well-being.”
Mesothelioma Awareness Day carried a similar message but related it specifically to the risks surrounding asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers were once used in a variety of construction and manufacturing processes before its carcinogenic properties were well known, leading to both occupational exposure and the secondhand exposure of family members who interacted with clothing and other materials from contaminated job sites.
“Given the long latency of mesothelioma, for thousands of Americans, the damage has already been done – the asbestos has been inhaled,” the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation stated. “Now it is our responsibility to invest in prevention research, and to make sure that if they develop mesothelioma, life-saving treatments and a cure are waiting for them.”
While asbestos exposure is closely linked to mesothelioma development, it can also cause scar tissue on the lungs and lung cancer. World Lung Day highlighted some of those other lung-related diseases associated with environmental and occupational exposures: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, pneumonia and tuberculosis.
The FIRS estimates occupational lung diseases affect more than 50 million people worldwide “and workers continue to breathe in sickening mineral dusts, bioaerosols and fumes.” That’s not including occupational exposures due to benzene and other toxins that cause Acute Myeloid Leukemia, other types of cancers and other health issues not related to the lungs.
Each person affected by any occupational disease could have been spared. Remove the toxins, and you remove the risk for millions around the world.
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Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Toxic Torts Section are investigating cases of occupational lung disease related to a number of chemical exposures, as well as mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. For more information, contact Rhon Jones, Toxic Torts Section Head, at 800-898-2034 or Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com.
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)
CHEST: American College of Physicians