Suregon General

I’m kind of pissed off right now. I got a text from Linda Reinstein (ADAO) late on Friday night that said the Surgeon General, Jerome M. Adams, tweeted about asbestos. I searched for it, radically typing “Surgeon General” into my twitter search bar, because who follows the Surgeon General? Side note, apparently 514K people actually do.

At first glance this is a great! He recognizes National Asbestos Awareness Week which the ADAO has fought many years to get put in place - the recognition from a person in his position is great! He continues on to warn Americans to be aware of the dangers of asbestos and to contact a their healthcare provider if they believe they have been exposed to asbestos.


Let’s imagine we live in a magical world where people know exactly when they’ve been exposed to asbestos. Then, like the Surgeon General suggests, you contact your doctor to set up an appointment. So the next day you hop on your unicorn and head to the doctor's office, making sure to leave early enough to beat traffic. As you land, you notice everyone you’ve ever met is there (what a great reunion) because remember, LITERALLY EVERYONE IN AMERICA HAS BEEN EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS. You finally get in to talk to your doctor and what is he/she going to say? “Come on back for a routine checkup in about 30 years and we’ll make an assessment”?

Do you see the problem here? Symptoms of asbestos related diseases can and usually take 20-40 years to arise. If everyone who thinks they’ve been exposed goes to get checked out that’s great but to make matters even worse asbestos caused cancers don’t have a cure or even a standard operating procedure other than “Let’s throw some chemo at it and see what happens".  This reactionary treatment doesn’t make the problem of Asbestos in America go away!

Now for some context. The Surgeon General is the first person in the Trump administration to acknowledge the dangers of asbestos (no matter how passive his acknowledgment). Trump himself has stated his support for the ongoing use of the material.

The man, who is literally America’s Doctor, recognizes the dangers of asbestos but my bets say nothing will happen as a result of his statement for two reasons. Firstly, because it seems at though he might be the only person in this administration that holds this opinion. The tweet has received a massive nineteen (19) retweets approximately three of those have been by me. No one cares. Secondly, the problem of Asbestos in America is far greater than just making people aware that it is dangerous and causes cancer, then attempting to treat it from there.

It’s so hard to make people care about themselves so far in the future. If a doctor tells you to exercise three times a week to avoid heart failure at least you have the possibly of shedding a few pounds and looking/feeling better in the meantime. Once exposed to asbestos, the possibility of preventing disease from that exposure has flown right out the window - we all just have to wait and see. This is the reason that for decades companies were able to use asbestos products without properly protecting their workers and this is the SAME reason there is still no ban on asbestos. We don’t know why it chooses who it does but we know asbestos causes a lethal cancer.

Honestly I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall as I write this.

No one cares. Regular people don’t seem to care about themselves or their family. And because they don’t care, the government doesn’t have to care either.


Conor B Lewis