On February 1, 2024, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), launched a new campaign to broadcast the dangers of asbestos and urge lawmakers to ban asbestos in the United States.
Asbestos is a highly toxic mineral that causes mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer. Despite more than 70 countries banning the material, asbestos is still legal in the U.S., putting innocent lives at risk.
“ADAO and IAFF’s message in Times Square is clear: Asbestos remains a killer, and our firefighters are disproportionately affected,” said Linda Reinstein, ADAO co-founder and president. “This is not just an awareness campaign; it’s a rallying cry for legislative action to protect those who protect us.”
When responding to emergencies in older buildings that still contain asbestos, firefighters are often exposed without even knowing it.
As a result, firefighters are twice as likely to suffer from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers than the average American.
Learn more about the campaign and how you can join the efforts to protect the public from asbestos exposure by advocating for a total ban.
Understanding the Campaign to Ban Asbestos Now
Marking the 20th anniversary of the ADAO and the beginning of National Cancer Prevention Month, the Ban Asbestos Now campaign was kicked off with an advertisement on a prominent billboard in New York’s Times Square.
The billboard displays heroic firefighters and encourages viewers to contact Congress to support the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now (ARBAN) Act.
The ARBAN Act is the first piece of legislation to call for a total ban on asbestos in all its uses since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s asbestos ban was overturned in 1991. Many believe the bill is crucial to prevent mesothelioma and other asbestos cancers.
“Cancer is the single greatest threat to America’s firefighters and the leading cause of death among our hometown heroes,” said Edward A. Kelly, General President of the IAFF, which represents over 343,000 firefighters and first responders.
The IAFF has fought alongside the ADAO to push an asbestos ban forward since offering the organization’s steadfast support in September 2023, saying that the ARBAN Act is critical to protect future generations.
The installation will remain in Times Square until February 14, 2024, and it is expected to get 21 million views. During this two-week period, the ADAO and IAFF will attend several meetings with lawmakers and public health officials to push for asbestos regulations.
“Why Times Square? It’s the crossroads of the world. Our message needs the widest audience,” Linda explained. “Every person who sees this billboard and sends a letter is another voice against asbestos, another ally in our fight for health and safety.”
The campaign will also run nationwide on social media to engage the public in educational and advocacy efforts.
The main goals of the campaign are to:
- Raise awareness: There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and around 40,000 people in the U.S. continue to die each year from asbestos-related diseases.
- Protect firefighters: While they put their lives on the line every day even against nearly invisible threats of asbestos, firefighters deserve to have their health and safety prioritized by lawmakers.
- Advocate for legislation: Every piece of the campaign features easy ways for people to contact Congress directly to support a ban on asbestos.
“We can’t face this challenge alone,” Linda emphasized. “Mesothelioma has taught me many life lessons, and we know community action is key to reducing the suffering and grief from mesothelioma.”
It Hits Home: The Origins of the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act
Linda’s commitment to banning asbestos comes from her own experience with the mineral’s devastating impacts.
In 2003, Linda’s husband Alan was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer she knew nothing about at the time. Within that first year, she came to understand that her husband’s illness could have been avoided if asbestos-product manufacturers had not put profit over health and safety.
After 3 years of battling the cancer, mesothelioma took Linda’s husband in 2006.
“My story is only one of so many others of mesothelioma hitting home,” Linda acknowledged. “I hope our advocacy work can result in eliminating asbestos diseases completely by banning asbestos in all its uses so no one else has to feel this grief.”
In the midst of her grief, Linda continued to channel her anger into action. She worked with lawmakers to draft the ARBAN Act in honor of her late husband. After decades of advocacy, the ARBAN Act reached Congress in 2019, but it fell off the voting schedule in 2020.
In 2023, Linda’s efforts culminated in the bill being reintroduced to Congress with bipartisan support. Since then, other advocates, like the IAFF, have joined Linda in working toward an asbestos-free future.
Join the Efforts to Ban Asbestos Now
No matter where you are in the U.S., you can also join the ADAO’s and IAFF’s advocacy campaign.
“Our strength lies in our shared stories of struggle against asbestos. Whether we share our stories at home on Capitol Hill, we are united in our fight to ban asbestos,” Linda stated.
You can spread awareness about asbestos and push for a total ban by:
- Sending a message to Congress to support the ARBAN Act
- Sharing posts and videos from the ADAO on Facebook and other social media platforms to encourage others in your life to take action
- Signing the petition to ban asbestos now with no loopholes or exceptions
If you’re in New York, consider making your way to the billboard, taking a picture, posting it on social media and tagging the ADAO.
Together, our voices can make a difference in preventing the future use of asbestos in this country, which may save thousands of firefighters, veterans and others from the devastating impact of a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Simmons Hanly Conroy: Helping Families Affected by Mesothelioma
As a leading national mesothelioma law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy can help families in all 50 states who have been affected by asbestos get the justice they deserve.
Over the past 20 years, our attorneys have secured over $9.7 billion in mesothelioma compensation for our clients nationwide.
Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers have seen firsthand the devastating impact of asbestos on the families of firefighters and other Americans. For this reason, we have fought for justice for asbestos victims and supported the ADAO in its advocacy efforts.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we may be able to help your family secure financial compensation. Contact our team now to get started free of charge.