Established in 2004 by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, Mesothelioma Awareness Day takes place annually on September 26. On this day, the mesothelioma community raise awareness to help find a cure for this rare cancer.
Why Is Spreading Mesothelioma Awareness Important?
Raising awareness about mesothelioma is extremely important because while the cancer is rare, deaths from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are almost entirely preventable. Events such as Mesothelioma Awareness Day help increase awareness and educate the public about the dangers of asbestos exposure and prevent misinformation about the disease.
If you’d like to show your support for finding a cure, be sure to order your free mesothelioma awareness wristbands today!
We asked our National Practice Leaders from our Hazardous Materials & Occupational Health & Safety Groups to give us a few words on the matter.
National Practice Leader, Hazardous Materials
Sean Douglas is Pinchin Ltd.’s National Practice Leader for Hazardous Building Materials management. He possesses more than 30 years of experience overseeing this core service group and is well versed in hazardous materials assessment, inventory, abatement specifications, and remediation.
To the public and many workers, asbestos exposure is thought of an issue from the 1960’s and 1970’s, causing increased cancer risk to workers that installed asbestos. As asbestos was gradually phased out of use, you may be surprised to learn that asbestos was not fully banned in Canada until 2018. It has been a long road of asbestos control in Canada, with impactful legislation coming into effect in the 1980s, asbestos mines closing in Canada in 2011 and the asbestos prohibition in 2018, has finally put an end to new uses of asbestos.
As we observe Mesothelioma Awareness day, now is a good time to honour those affected by this disease and educate the public, workers and employers on the hazards of asbestos exposure. As we reflect over the legacy of asbestos exposure, having worked in the asbestos control industry for the best part of 35 years, I’ve been able to experience this journey almost since the start.
While it’s true that many exposures happened in the decades before the ban, asbestos remains in buildings and is typically uncovered by renovation and demolition activity, and asbestos exposure is still occurring. Occupational deaths relating to asbestos exposure, increased 60 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to Statistics Canada. In 2021, one third of worker deaths in British Columbia lists asbestos exposure as a contributing factor, according to WorkSafe BC.
The good news is that if identified and controlled properly, asbestos can be remediated in a safe manner and takes the combined efforts of trained workers, qualified contractors and consultants and diligent building owners. By doing so will mitigate and hopefully eliminate this rare form of cancer from the workplace.
National Practice Leader, Occupational Health & Safety
Chris Taylor is Pinchin Ltd.’s National Practice Leader for Occupational Health & Safety. He possesses more than 25 years of experience as both an occupational hygienist / safety consultant and in managing asbestos and lead remediation projects.
While I had been aware of asbestos and its issues growing up in the 70’s (thanks to my uncle who was an occupational hygienist for the province), it was when beginning to teach workers about the hazards of asbestos beginning in 1995 that the impact to the working world became much clearer. When I first started teaching, there was a thought that, “well, you will likely teach this for another 10 years or so, but after that, it will likely no longer be an issue.” Unfortunately, 27 years later, I am still teaching, and asbestos remains the most significant worker killer. I think that if you ask many people, they consider asbestos a historical issue beyond the occasional late-night American TV ad. But while diseases like asbestosis are very much on the wane, lung cancer and mesothelioma continue to impact our workforce
Every time I drive by a temporary labour agency, I know there are workers who may be asked to “git‘er done” by a contractor who either doesn’t know (or doesn’t care) that the building they are working in contains asbestos. Every time I teach another group of workers about what things might contain asbestos and where, I watch them go through their moment of recognition that sometime in their past, they did something they now regret, I am reminded that this remains a now problem, not a back then one.
If you or a loved one works in the trades or construction, I hope that the issues around asbestos are known, and that this horrible disease does not impact your life. But don’t for any reason think this is a disease of the past. I hope that someday it will, but that 10 years or so date still seems a way off.
If you’re interested in learning more about asbestos, or if you think you may encounter asbestos in the workplace or home, you should consider registering to one of Pinchin’s asbestos awareness courses that offer a thorough and concise overview of asbestos uses, health hazards and regulatory requirements. Check out our course calendar here.
Canadian Cancer Society (CCS): The CCS has a lot of information about mesothelioma that will help you to understand your diagnosis and to make decisions about treatment. On their website, you will also find information about what causes mesothelioma and mesothelioma statistics.
University Health Network (UHN) Mesothelioma Multidisciplinary Program: Healthcare providers in this program all specialize in mesothelioma. The website provides information on understanding pleural mesothelioma and explains how they assess and evaluate suspected or confirmed mesothelioma patients, as well as their interprofessional approach to comprehensive care.
Canadian Mesothelioma Foundation: Founded in 2008, the Canadian Mesothelioma Foundation is a largely volunteer-run registered charity, dedicated to raising awareness and understanding about mesothelioma in Canada.