Officials canceled last night’s game at Madison Square Garden against the Orlando Magic because “asbestos-related” material fell from the building’s attic and landed on the arena. The asbestos material was dislodged because the attic had been cleaned earlier for routine maintenance.
Further testing later last night revealed that the dust was not asbestos. Despite this, credit is due to Garden officials for reacting with caution and taking asbestos exposure seriously. Too often, this is not the case, as many people wrongly believe asbestos is banned, making it an outdated safety topic.
Last night’s events illustrate all too clearly that asbestos exposure is a very current and very real safety concern for the 21st century. Being exposed to asbestos can happen to anyone. What if that dust had fallen during the game? The World Health Organization has stated there is no standard for safe exposure, meaning its possible one breath could create an exposure incident severe enough to develop mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer with no cure.
Yet, the public unfortunately remains uninformed about asbestos exposure and its dangers. More than 10,000 Americans die every year from asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, according to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. Since 1940, millions of workers have been exposed to asbestos including individuals involved in the rescue, recovery and cleanup of 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The Madison Square Garden incident, thankfully, was only a scare. That said, it is also an opportunity to ignite more public awareness that asbestos is a current safety concern that needs to be addressed. It surrounds us. In our attics, shingles, plumbing and cement. So how can we keep the conversation going? How can we make more people aware of an unnecessary disease like mesothelioma? Do you have any ideas? If you do, we’d love to hear from you.