During National Asbestos Disease Awareness Week (April 1-7), we’ll be cross-posting a piece every day from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

By Kenneth A. Cook, Co-founder and President, Environmental Working Group; cross-posted from Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

Thousands of innocent people die while governments do nothing to prevent it. In Darfur it’s called genocide. In the case of asbestos-related deaths in the United States, it’s just a statistic.

Ten thousand Americans lose their lives every year as a result of exposure to asbestos. Our government could take action and ban the mineral, but it has not.

A number of other developed countries, including all of Europe, prohibit manufacture and use of asbestos. In the U.S., however, it continues to be imported and used in a number of products that many of us encounter every day. 

Industry has known all about the deadly affects of asbestos for decades but covered it up. Manufacturers and users did everything possible to conceal just how deadly it is, particularly for those exposed on the job.

A few years back, EWG compiled industry internal memos and court documents highlighting just how callous and duplicitous the cover-up of asbestos has been.

“…if you have enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products, why not die from it.” 1966 memo from an executive of the Bendix Corporation (now part of Honeywell)

The results of our investigation, including all the documents, are on EWG’s website: http://www.ewg.org/sites/asbestos/facts/fact3.php.

Ken Cook co-founded EWG with Richard Wiles in 1993. In the 15 years since its founding, EWG has earned renown for its innovative, headline-making computer investigations of environmental problems.