I was approached by a lady (online and not as dodgy as it sounds) who works for a cancer charity ( http://www.mesothelioma.com please check it out!) in America by the name of Emily Walsh. She is trying to raise awareness about asbestosis or mesothelioma as it’s otherwise known. I didn’t realise this but in the United States asbestos is still a legal building material, even though they know the risks, just because it’s cheap for the building companies to use.

I find this bizarre. In my opinion cancers fall into three categories, unexplained/unpreventable, partially preventable and wholly unnecessary. My cancer’s origin is unknown and at the moment there is no known reason for it to develop. This would fall into the first category (for now, until they work out why it happens).

You also have a higher chance of developing cancer if you have a heavy diet of fatty food or if you don’t do any exercise. This is partially preventable in that some people have the luxury to vary their diet or introduce exercise into their life. Some don’t. If you have no source of income you can’t be picky about the food you eat. In America the cheapest food is junk, so there’s little choice, especially if you are working all the hours you can to pay the bills, raise your children etc. Also education can often fail on this point as the marketing departments for chain food restaurants with their glossy products easily outfox the government’s anaemic paperwork hand outs. Likewise sometimes people can’t do exercise. They either have bad backs, muscle issues or a weak heart. It’s then not practical to do exercise and there is little that can be done to prevent sedentary cancers. Other times people can do exercise but choose not to and this is then a lifestyle choice and preventable. It’s all down to context.

The third type of cancer is the most criminal. This is where all evidence points towards something which is voluntary causing cancer, other options for this item are as cost effective which don’t cause it but its still used. Consequentially people die for no good reason.

Using asbestos as a building material falls into this category. American legislative bodies know the risks and know that supply of this material is completely banned in other countries (UK, Singapore, Japan, and Turkey to name a few) as carcinogenic. There are alternatives which can easily be used. But companies still use a building material which causes a particularly horrible form of cancer. That’s just criminal.

To explain a little more about asbestos I turn to our good friend Wikipedia.

Individual asbestos fibres are invisible to the unaided human eye and when sufficient force is applied, they tend to break along their weakest directions, resulting in one larger asbestos fibre ultimately become the source of hundreds of much thinner and smaller fibres.

When fibres or asbestos structures from asbestos containing materials (ACM) become airborne, the process is called primary release. Primary release mechanisms include abrasion, impaction, fallout, air erosion, vibration, and fire damage. Secondary release occurs when settled asbestos fibres and structures are suspended as a result of human activities. In unoccupied buildings or during unoccupied periods, fibre release typically occurs by fallout or is induced by vibration or air erosion.

Mesotheliomas have been observed in people who were occupationally exposed to chrysotile, family members of the occupationally exposed, and residents who lived close to asbestos factories and mines. According to the NCI, “A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases. The most common diseases associated with chronic exposure to asbestos include: asbestosis and pleural abnormalities (mesothelioma, lung cancer). There is also a long latency period (incubation period of an infectious disease, before symptoms appear) of about 12 to 20 years

This is not dissimilar in type to lung cancer caused by cigarettes. We know people don’t need to smoke them and we know they are addictive and yet the big tobacco companies still sell them with blatant disregard for health over profits. I get that there’s a historical legacy to these companies and you can’t shut a company overnight but fifty years later they are still selling cancer. People can obviously choose not to smoke but wouldn’t it be easier for those who have become hooked to have no choice but to stop (depends on your perspective). As someone who now has cancer I would like to personally shake everyone who smokes and point out they could be killing themselves, but that’s a different story. (and totally not my place)

I digressed slightly there, but I think it’s relevant. Like smoking, asbestos is completely unnecessary. With timber frame, brick and even corrugated metal you can make perfectly comfortable homes without having to put the Spector of mesothelioma (Or asbestosis) in the air.

It’s just another example of companies seeking to get money whilst riding roughshod over people’s health. People need houses, couldn’t we make sure that they are made of material that doesn’t give them cancer?

Please check out the original source for this if you have any questions or are just interested http://www.mesothelioma.com

Did You Know Facts