4374.0 Disease prevention and social justice: the case of asbestos

Tuesday, November 9, 2010: 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
The devastating consequences of asbestos upon the health of workers, families, and communities have historically been subordinated to corporate interests. At a policy level, the weakness of the laws and efforts of asbestos-using industries have limited regulatory measures for those who work on the line with toxic substances, leaving them with little choice but to continue their work without adequate prevention supported by regulation. Systematic efforts to confuse the public and subvert or discredit independent science have left people vulnerable to continued asbestos exposure resulting in diseases that are clearly preventable. The extended time from exposure to development of asbestos-related disease creates a particular dilemma. Employment-related mobility, lack of available education, low-socioeconomic status, and limited medical services are among the many contributors to the lethality of this disease-promoting substance. The case of asbestos provides a template for analysis of a variety of disease-promoting materials marketed in the national and global occupational environment and further supports the 2009 APHA Asbestos Resolution calling for an asbestos ban.
Session Objectives: Describe the history of workers’ exposure to asbestos and industries’ resistance to regulatory action. Identify the medical aspects of asbestos-related disease; latency and co-occurrences; limitations of medical care; and inadequate autopsy or death records for supporting epidemiology and/or worker claims for disease compensation. Describe historic and continuing failings of the regulatory and legislative systems. Explain the role of class disparities and other social factors in asbestos exposure and disease compensation. List the factors related to diagnostic delays and treatment options. Describe the role of the global asbestos trade in perpetuating asbestos-related disease, including the role (or lack) of corporate social responsibility.

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Organized by: Occupational Health and Safety
Endorsed by: Socialist Caucus, Social Work, Trade and Health Forum

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)