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Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Day inaugurated in Australia

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Losing her husband to a deadly asbestos-induced disease, Dorothy Roberts, 72, is one of 12 widows being portrayed during Australia’s National Asbestos & Mesothelioma Day.

The ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) will join with asbestos victims and support groups to carry out a day of events that will punctuate the dangers of asbestos.

Regarded as the “silent killer,” mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the mesothelial cells that line many internal organs and body cavities. Predominantly used as a form of building insulation for pipes and vents, asbestos has affected the health and vitality of thousands of people.

According to a recent study taken by the University of Western Australia, 13,000 Australians will perish from mesothelioma by the year 2020.

Homes and buildings around the world which were built prior to 1980 have the potential of harboring asbestos fibers. The Asbestos Disease Foundation stated that the biggest asbestos risk today is renovating homes that once featured asbestos insulation. Despite media attempts to educate the public, there is still a low level of awareness and knowledge devoted to the dangers of asbestos in Australia.

Mrs. Roberts, whose husband, Alan, passed away at the age of 54 after a struggle with malignant mesothelioma, recalled how the disease slowly suffocated his life away. “You’d see him going downhill. He couldn’t walk anywhere. He was flat-out just getting to the postbox,” Roberts said.

With no cure and limited treatment, mesothelioma is typically fatal within 12 months of diagnosis. The typical period between exposure and diagnosis can be between 20 and 50 years. Some of the common symptoms include; chronic cough, chest pain, presence of blood, weight loss, headaches and fatigue.

Taking place on Friday morning at the Maritime Museum in Australia, the National Awareness Day is one of many related events planned by ACTU. They believe that governments should work with asbestos victims, unions, and groups to protect citizens from potential exposure.

The launch of National Asbestos Awareness Day will be concluded by a moment of silence dedicated to the 12 widows and those who lost loved ones to asbestos cancer.

“We believe more can be done to raise awareness about the dangers of handling and disposing asbestos products and to protect the community from exposure to asbestos,” an ACTU spokesperson said.

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