As 20 of the world’s leaders gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina this week for the G20 summit to address global economic growth, international trade, and the regulation of financial markets, “there will certainly be much talk about markets, labor and more,” says Linda Reinstein, co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). “I feel it is important that these leaders speak about the fact that seven G20 nations – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, and the U.S. – are still mining, exporting, importing, and/or using asbestos, a known and deadly carcinogen.”
Reinstein is a champion for victims of asbestos, a fibrous, fire-resistant mineral that was mined and widely used around the world in construction, shipbuilding and friction materials until the 1980s. It had been known for decades that exposure to asbestos could lead to serious diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma, a particularly deadly form of cancer. In 2006, the World Health Organization said that the most effective way to deal with asbestos and the diseases it causes was to stop using all forms of it.
More than 60 countries have banned the mining, exporting, importing and/or use of asbestos. In the 1980s, the U.S. fell short of a ban, opting instead to restrict its use. Under the Trump administration, however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it would consider new uses for the carcinogenic mineral.
“The irrefutable facts in the USA are that both asbestos imports and asbestos-linked deaths have increased in 2018,” Reinstein said.
Reinstein’s organization, ADAO, joined more than 50 experts and nonprofits around the globe in signing the Asbestos Victims Association of Belgium G20 Summit letter, “A call to G20 leaders for global action to ban asbestos.” The letter calls for “decisive action to ban asbestos worldwide.” ADAO is also taking this opportunity to communicate directly to President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin about its concerns regarding asbestos. “It is reprehensible that the U.S. imports hundreds of tons of raw asbestos from Brazil and Russia for the chlor-alkali industry.”