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Empowering Women to Lead the Fight Against Asbestos: Turning Anger into Action

By March 13, 2024March 19th, 2024Meso

– by Linda Reinstein, co-founder Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

Eleanor Roosevelt was right when she said, “A woman is like a tea bag—you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

I’m a mother, a mesothelioma widow, and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), whose personal journey of loss and advocacy underscores a broader narrative of neglect and urgent need for change in this country—a thread woven into the fabric that defines the female experience, our lives, and the environments we inhabit.

Like many of you, I thought our water, soil, and air were free of toxic contaminants. When my husband Alan was diagnosed with mesothelioma, I learned I was wrong. 

Asbestos: A Century-Old Threat Continues

Asbestos has been a known carcinogen for nearly a century, with scientific consensus affirming that there is no safe level of exposure. Despite this, the United States continues to see imports and use of asbestos, still leading to approximately 40,000 entirely preventable deaths each year from asbestos-caused diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

The persistence of asbestos in our homes, schools, workplaces, and even in everyday products like cosmetics and baby powder is not just a regulatory failure, but a glaring example of how corporate interests, armed with money, power, and politics, have systematically prioritized profits over human health.

Mobilizing Anger & Grief

ADAO, as a movement, is about more than banning a toxic substance. It’s about reclaiming our right to live in a world where lives are protected over corporate profits. At 40,000 U.S. asbestos-related deaths per year, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

I invite you to join me/us in channeling our collective grief and anger into a force for change. Anger requires action, which sure beats the despair that accompanies giving up. My daughter and I were at my husband’s side when he took his last breaths; that memory will be etched across my heart forever. It set a fire in my bones.

Over the last two decades, my mission has been to amplify the dangers of asbestos exposure, push for stringent regulations, and advocate for pivotal policies like the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN), a proposed law aiming to eradicate asbestos in America. My journey has been a testament to the profound impact of women’s combined voices in catalyzing change.

What’s left is to keep elevating our voices, demanding action from our representatives, and holding corporations accountable for their role in perpetuating the asbestos crisis. By doing so, we not only honor the memory of those we’ve lost but also protect future generations from suffering a similar fate.

Legislation for Change: The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN)

The ARBAN represents a beacon of hope; it’s a legislative proposal that seeks to ban the mining, importation, use, and distribution of asbestos in the United States once and for all. Its passage would mark a significant victory for public health and environmental justice, but it requires the support of a mobilized and informed populace to become reality.

Women have always been a formidable force for societal change. Now, more than ever, our voices are needed to challenge the status quo.

Get Mad with Me

“Some women can easily get lost in the fire, but strong women are built from it.” This mantra embodies the essence of our fight—a fight not just against a toxic substance but against a culture that has allowed it to persist. It’s a call to arms for women everywhere to harness their collective power, turn their anger into action, and advocate for a future where public health is no longer sacrificed at the altar of profit.

The time for asbestos action is now.

Let’s stand up and take steps to convert our anger and frustration into an organized ruckus that will affect meaningful change by sending your letters to Congress. By advocating for the passage of ARBAN, supporting legal actions against those who prioritize profits over people, and educating others about the risks of asbestos, we can make a lasting difference.

The battle against asbestos proves that an organized movement of passionate women is an unstoppable force for change. Please, get mad with me, get active, and help write a new chapter for an asbestos-free future where no more lives are cut short by preventable disease. The tea is ready and it’s scalding hot.