Being green isn’t simply about changing your own habits, your home or even your work place, it’s about encouraging others to do the same either actively by campaign or making others aware of the benefits your life has. One the biggest ways we can develop a greener and healthier society is by changing government policy that encourages or forces large businesses and public sector services to rethink the way they do things. A great example of this is the UK government’s ban on the use of Asbestos from 2001. Asbestos is a set of naturally occurring minerals which the building and construction industry having been using since the 19th century. They have lots of properties and different uses that can be applied in many ways throughout buildings but unfortunately it is an incredibly toxic substance that if inhaled can lead to an array of nasty illnesses including lung diseases and cancer. We had been aware of its risks for several decades, reducing the amount and types of asbestos we used until it’s complete ban for all use in new builds and all refurbishments. Britain is still full of asbestos and it now heavily regulated and controlled to maintain it in existing buildings without risk to the public. This is a brilliant thing and an effective foot forward for how government policy can really implement change. Unfortunately however we still have around 4500 deaths a year due to asbestos related illness and probably will continue to do so till the full effects of the ban are felt well into the 21st century benefiting future generations.
So why asbestos awareness week? Well it’s not for us Brits, it’s for our friends across the pond. The US government still has not banned it’s use, and it is estimated 30 million pounds are used each year. It is the biggest cause of occupational cancer in the US and if the continue to use it the problem could easily get worse. It seems ridiculous to me that they still haven’t banned it but I was equally shocked that the UK hadn’t till 2001 even though the health problems had been clearly visible for decades. We need awareness to be spread so the American people can understand the danger their construction workers and the wider public are in by it’s continued use throughout all types of buildings. If it was raised to the top of the political agenda if only throughout the awareness week it might encourage politicians to act upon the overwhelming evidence against asbestos and ban it’s further use and enhance the regulations surrounding it’s maintenance. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as a figure head for the current campaign, Heather Von St James (pictured in the top) was diagnosed with mesothelioma (A exclusively asbestos related cancer) and given 15 months to live, she and her husband Cameron fought the odds and with treatment beat the cancer! It always makes me so happy when people survive cancer and so pleased that Heather and Cameron can continue enjoying life together with their daughter. They now spend their time raising awareness about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure.
Please spread the word to others to educate them and encourage those in the US government to take notice of a practice that must be stopped for the goodness of society and the world as a whole (only 55 countries have banned it’s production and use)Find Heather and Cameron’s wonderful website here, along with websites relating to asbestos in the US. For more info about asbestos and the law surrounding it’s use visit HSE and how to manage it here.
p.s. Up yours cancer!