Latest Mesothelioma News Stories & Asbestos Articles

August 23, 2013 -Jury Finds that Dow Chemical Must Pay Nearly $6 Million
Damages in Louisiana Mesothelioma Case

In a case that attorneys say may foreshadow even more such lawsuits, Dow Chemical was ordered to pay $5.95 million in damages to the family of a former electrician who developed malignant mesothelioma as a result of working at a Dow plant.

The verdict was returned recently by a Plaquemine, Louisiana jury, which found Dow liable on all counts in a civil lawsuit filed in Louisiana state court relating to its use of asbestos and allegedly causing cancer in its workers, according to a press release issued after the verdict.

The release said that Dow’s Louisiana division is headquartered in Plaquemine and the Dow Plaquemine Plant is the largest chemical plant in the petro-chemical industry rich state.

The lawsuit alleged that exposures to asbestos at Dow caused Sidney Mabile’s terminal cancer, mesothelioma. Mabile’s attorneys alleged in the suit that Dow has exposed thousands of workers to asbestos, and that Mabile is only one of hundreds of future asbestos cancer victims also exposed at Dow.

The case was closely watched by legal experts who said that fact that Mabile was successful in winning a large award of damages for his cancer will probably generate many other similar mesothelioma lawsuits by other current and former Dow workers.

The trial also exposed the extent to which Dow uses asbestos, a toxic material that causes mesothelioma, in its facilities and has undertaken an international effort to prevent almost universal support for a ban on asbestos, according to evidence in the case.

Court documents revealed that Dow has continued to use tons of raw asbestos in its chemical manufacturing facilities throughout the world. “Most chemical companies abandoned using asbestos decades ago. But Dow continues to use the notorious carcinogen in plants throughout the world because the processing is roughly ten percent less expensive with asbestos than with asbestos-free alternatives," said one of Mabile's attorneys.

Mesothelioma kills countless thousands of victims each year in cases that are overwhelmingly caused by exposure to asbestos. About 2,000 to 3,000 mesothelioma cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.

The number of victims in other countries cannot be accurately tabulated because several of the most populated countries in the world -- including Russia, India, China and Indonesia -- refuse to produce official mesothelioma figures.

Mesothelioma typically develops several decades after victims are exposed to asbestos and unknowingly inhale microscopic, airborne asbestos fibers.

These fibers then work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and eventually generate mesothelioma cancer cells which form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body.

There is no cure for mesothelioma and most victims are given life expectancies of less than 18 months after being diagnosed.

Employers and manufacturers who have been found liable in mesothelioma cases have paid out billions of dollars in settlements and jury awards over the last several decades and billions more have been set aside for future compensation, according to public financial reports.

In the Louisiana case, internal Dow documents showed that Dow lobbied to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ban of asbestos.

Court documents suggested that Dow performed a “cost per cancer” analysis and determined that it would cost Dow over $1.2 billion to switch all of its plants to non-asbestos processing methods, according to the press release.

Plaintiff's lawyers said Dow was successful in lobbying the Environmental Protection Agency to allow Dow to continue using raw asbestos in its United States chemical plants and that Dow has continued to fight the ban of asbestos in other countries. The European Trade Union Confederation explains that an “opposition to a blanket asbestos ban now seems to come only from Dow Chemicals.”

“Dow fought this case with all of its legal might, and we are relieved that the jury was able to see Dow for what it is: a company that chose to make more money over protecting its workers from carcinogens," Mabile's lawyer said in the press release.

" Mr. Mabile holds hope that this verdict will lead to a change at Dow, and that it will stop using asbestos before even more workers are diagnosed with cancers,” they said.

Mabile was exposed to asbestos at the Dow Chemical Plaquemine facility, the largest chemical plant in Louisiana, where he worked as an electrician. Dow internal documents predicted in 1970 that a significant number of the company's workers were at risk for developing asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma, even workers who did not work directly with asbestos, according to his attorneys.

Dow has suffered similar awards of damages in the past. In 2011, for instance, a Texas jury ordered Dow to pay $9 million to the family of an insulation installer after finding that his employment at another Dow refinery contributed to his death from mesothelioma.

According to evidence presented in that case, the victim, Robert Henderson, installed new asbestos insulation in pipes at Dow's refinery in Freeport, Texas, in the late 1960s.


August 21, 2013 - World Health Organization Studies Show Huge Toll Taken By Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Caused Cancers

As medical researchers continue their efforts to find a cure for malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases other researchers are attempting to tabulate the toll the cancers are taking on humanity.

In the United States our national health officials estimate that about 2,000 to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma, for instance, each year. Unfortunately, most are told they will have a year, or less, to live.

That is because the nature of mesothelioma diagnosis is that by the time it is discovered the cancer is so far advanced that it cannot be effectively treated by traditional approaches such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

The international toll is much higher, according to the World Health Organization, which has called for a ban on asbestos, the overwhelming cause of mesothelioma, asbestosis and some forms of lung cancer.

The WHO is the best international source of statistics on these diseases and the most recent report compiled from WHO data was recently posted online by the American Journal for Industrial Medicine.
The publication analyzed the results from an aspect of potential years of life lost to mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases and came up with some disturbing figures. Here is an abstract of the study:

Background
We applied the well-established, but rather under-utilized, indicator of Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL) to estimate the global burden of mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Methods
We analyzed all deaths caused by mesothelioma and asbestosis that were reported by 82 and 55 countries, respectively, to the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1994 to 2010.
Results

The 128,015 and 13,885 persons who died of mesothelioma and asbestosis, potentially lost a total of 2.18 million and 180,000 years of life (PYLL), or, an annual average PYLL of 201,000 years and 17,000 years, respectively. The average PYLL per decedent were 17.0 and 13.0 years for mesothelioma and asbestosis, respectively.
Conclusions

The current burden of asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) in terms of PYLL is substantial. The future burden of ARDs can be eliminated by stopping the use of asbestos.

The study is couched in statistical terms that fail to capture the pain and suffering that have been inflicted on countless mesothelioma and other cancer victims.

In the United States and other Westernized countries many of these victims and their loved ones have been able to win compensation for their pain and suffering, medical costs, funerals expenses and other costs caused by mesothelioma, which has been directly attributed in many cases to exposure in job settings in which negligence was proven.

Over a billion dollars has been paid out in settlements and jury awards to U.S. mesothelioma victims and their loved ones, according to court documents and billions more have been set aside for future payouts, according to public financial filings.

Certain workers have been disproportionately more affected than others, particularly U.S. Navy veterans, shipyard workers, railroad workers, auto mechanics and those who were construction workers, including insulators, carpenters, plumbers, tile setters and electricians.

Another study focusing on mesothelioma was conducted for the WHO measuring the years between 1994-2008 in which the organization "recognized that asbestos is one of the most important occupational carcinogens and that the burden of asbestos-related disease is rising. Consequently, WHO has declared that asbestos-related diseases should be eliminated throughout the world."

The study found that the global mesothelioma burden is unclear and that there are estimates that as many as 43,000 people worldwide die from the disease each year.

However, officials believe that toll may be much higher because some of the most populous countries in the world do not report mesothelioma figures. Among them are China, India, Indonesia and Russia.

The study concluded that mesothelioma cases will continue to increase around the globe:

"In conclusion, malignant mesothelioma remains a rare form of cancer but the disease is on the rise, probably due to the spread of asbestos use over past decades. Our analysis shows that the disease burden is still predominantly borne by the developed world. However, since asbestos use has recently increased in developing countries, a corresponding shift in disease occurrence is anticipated.

"Our analysis of the global mortality pattern suggests that there are early indications of this shift and lends support to the call by international organizations to eliminate asbestos-related diseases and discontinue the use of asbestos throughout the world."

 

August 16, 2013 -Two Idaho Men Sentenced to Prison for Environmental Violations that Posed Mesothelioma Risks

Two Idaho men have been sentenced to prison for their role in environmental violations in an Idaho waterline renovation project in which workers and the public were put at risk of exposure to toxic materials which may cause malignant mesothelioma.

The judge who handed down the sentence and the U.S. Attorney’s office stressed the danger of mishandling of asbestos, which raised the risk of the community being exposed to fibers that can lead to mesothelioma.

The mesothelioma danger was so acute that nearly $4 million was spent in a government environmental cleanup of the project to ensure public safety.

The two men, Bradley Eberhart, 51, of Garden Valley, Idaho, and Douglas Greiner, 53, of Eagle, Idaho, were sentenced in Boise federal court for violating the asbestos work practice standards of the Clean Air Act, announced Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Wendy J. Olson, United States Attorney for the District of Idaho.

Asbestos is the overwhelming cause of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer for which there is no cure and is diagnosed in between 2,000 and 3,000 Americans each year, according to national health statistics.

In most cases, victims innocently inhale microscopic, invisible fibers which work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over several decades, generate mesothelioma cancer cells.

These mesothelioma cells form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body. Most mesothelioma victims are not diagnosed until they are in their 50s and 60s and the life expectancies for most diagnosed is less than 18 months.

Asbestos was a common element in construction, insulating and other uses until strict laws were put in place in the 1970s and there are strict government rules and regulations for the handling and disposal of asbestos in order to protect workers and the public from mesothelioma.

In the case of public works projects such as the waterline project, special training and protective clothing are required in cases in which asbestos may be present.

U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge sentenced Eberhart to six months in prison plus six months of home confinement, followed by six months of supervised release, 200 hours of community service, and restitution of $3.98 million, in joint and several liability.

Greiner was also sentenced to six months in prison and six months of home confinement, to be followed by six months of supervised release. The amount of restitution by Greiner will be the subject of further briefing by the parties.

 Judge Lodge told the defendants, “You don’t put the company ahead of what is right or ahead of people.”

Both defendants previously pleaded guilty on Feb. 26, 2013.

Boise-based Owyhee Construction Inc. was the successful bidder on a $2.1 million waterline renovation project in Orofino, Idaho, a rural community in north central Idaho.  Greiner was the project superintendent and Eberhart was the onsite supervisor of the project.

The contract documents warned Owyhee Construction that the company may encounter up to 5,000 linear feet of cement asbestos pipe (CAP) during the renovation. CAP is a non-friable form of asbestos that is encapsulated in a cement matrix. When the CAP is broken or crushed by heavy equipment or subjected to cutting and grinding by machinery it becomes subject to regulation because of the threat to public health from airborne fibers.

Eberhart and Greiner failed to properly supervise the renovation, according to the charges. Eberhart supervised employees who were not properly trained in asbestos work and were not properly outfitted with protective gear while cutting CAP with saws.

While working in the trenches to replace pipe, workers would remove CAP from the trenches, crush it and then place it back in the trenches. Large quantities of CAP were also removed from the trenches and ended up as fill material on sixteen properties around Orofino. Greiner pleaded guilty to orchestrating one of the disposals. The EPA cleanup cost just under $4 million.

“These prison sentences reflect the serious consequences of the failure of these defendants to comply with EPA’s regulations that protect public health from asbestos, a human carcinogen,” said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

 “Such criminal acts endanger workers and the community and can, as demonstrated here, cost the federal government millions of dollars to cleanup. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute these crimes.”
U.S. Attorney Olson noted that the long latency period of mesothelioma means that the extent of exposure may not be known for several decades.

“This case demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement and the Department of Justice to ensure the health of our residents,” he said.

“Threats to the environment and to public health may not be readily apparent from a construction project. Renovation projects like these often generate dust with fine asbestos particles that may have the potential to cause serious health and environmental problems if safety precautions are not taken. The full extent of injury from airborne asbestos may not be noticed or diagnosed for years. It is important that companies, their foremen and their operators comply with environmental laws to avoid serious harm.”

“These two Defendants carelessly subjected Orofino residents to asbestos exposure,” said Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Seattle. “In the course of their enterprise, they also created sixteen separate asbestos disposal sites that threatened the community, jeopardized workers and cost taxpayers $4 million to cleanup. Today’s sentence sends a clear message: if you risk people’s lives to save time and money, you will pay the price.”

August 6, 2013 - Asbestos-Related Mesothelioma Costs Lower Huge Insurance Company’s Stock Shares

Lawsuits and claims filed by malignant mesothelioma victims and others who have suffered serious diseases as a result of exposure to asbestos are continuing to result in huge payoffs from large businesses and insurance companies.

Mesothelioma is the most common of these cancers and develops after a victim unknowingly inhales airborne, microscopic fibers, usually in a workplace environment which provides legal grounds for negligence and other allegations.

Although the dangers of asbestos exposure have been long known and strict laws governing the use, handling and disposal of the toxic material have been in place since the 1970s in the United States there continues to be a huge amount of mesothelioma lawsuits in our courts.

Most consumers are unaware that billions of dollars have been paid out in settlements and jury awards to mesothelioma victims and their loved ones and that billions more have been set aside for future compensation over these claims and lawsuits.
These figures can have a huge impact in the financial market, where such figures are frequently reported in the public financial statements that are posted.
 
One example involving insurance heavyweight Hartford was recently reported on the Wall Street Journal website:
“Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.'s (HIG) second-quarter loss widened as the insurer was hit by a $421 million loss related to its international variable annuity hedging programs and other items.
“Shares were down nearly 1% at $30.50 in recent after-hours trading as core earnings were at the lower end of expectations. Through the close, the stock is up 87% in the past 12 months.
“Hartford Financial, a 200-year-old insurer, has been overhauling its operations to narrow its focus to its property-casualty, group-benefits and mutual-funds operations. The transformation effort had begun amid pressure from some shareholders. Most recently, Hartford Financial last month agreed to sell its retirement and insurance subsidiary Hartford Life International Ltd. to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRKA, BRKB) for about $285 million. In the latest period, Hartford Financial was hit with a loss of $126 million related to the pending sale of its U.K. annuity business.
“In the latest quarter, the insurer also boosted its reserves for any asbestos- and environmental-related claims following its annual review, resulting in an unfavorable impact of $91 million. Hartford Financial is one of many commercial insurers that have revised upward the expected cost of dealing with exposures that date back years, as litigation has grown and claims costs mounted.
“The latest period also included a charge of $52 million related to the company's worker's compensation coverage as a result of the closing of the New York Fund for Reopened Cases.
“Overall, Hartford Financial reported a loss of $190 million, or 42 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $101 million, or 26 cents a share.”
Reuters News Service recently conducted and exhaustive and insightful review of lawsuits filed by mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused disease victims and reported that the number of cases continues to climb even after the strict new rules and regulations were imposed.
As Reuters reported:
“No central registry keeps track of asbestos lawsuits filed yearly or their outcomes. A tabulation of jury verdicts and settlements, based on an average of all asbestos-related lawsuits reported in Westlaw Journal Asbestos, a Thomson Reuters publication, found that the average award was $6.3 million in 2009, $17.6 million in 2010 and $10.5 million in 2011 -- amounts much greater than what lawyers say was the norm more than a decade earlier.

“Clearly, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related payouts persist at levels companies and their insurers never expected. Insurers have been adding hundreds of millions of dollars to their asbestos-claim reserves. Travelers Cos, in its annual report for 2011, echoed its peers when it cited a "high degree of uncertainty with respect to future exposure from asbestos claims."

One of the factors involved in the number of mesothelioma lawsuits holding steady is that mesothelioma has an incredibly long latency period, sometimes of up to five or six decades.

This means that many victims who were exposed to the toxic material have yet to be diagnosed and come forward with claims and lawsuits.

Most mesothelioma victims are not diagnosed with the cancer until they are in their 60s or 70s and the cancer is so far advanced it cannot be effectively treated by traditional approaches such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

In the overwhelming number of cases the microscopic, inhaled fibers work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs. There, over several decades, these fibers eventually generate cancer cells which form tumors and spread to other parts of the body.

July 9, 2013 -Huge Redevelopment Asbestos Cleanup Costs Demonstrate Emphasis Government Officials Place on Mesothelioma Danger

Most large American urban areas have undertaken redevelopment projects to spur economic growth and erase industrial eyesores that also threaten public health with asbestos exposure that can lead to the deadly cancer malignant mesothelioma.

Any time such projects are under undertaken government officials strictly regulate such projects out of concern for worker and public safety through environmental laws and regulations designed to protect against asbestos exposure.

This is a serious matter as such exposure is the overwhelming cause of mesothelioma, a cancer that develops after victims unknowingly inhale microscopic, airborne fibers that eventually work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs.

There, over several decades, these fibers fight off the body’s defense mechanisms and generate cancer cells which form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body.

There is no cure for mesothelioma and most victims after being diagnosed are told their life expectancy will be less than18 months. About 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to national health figures.

That is why so much attention, funding and regulation is paid to this issue, as most recently demonstrated in a large New England Redevelopment project.

As reported by WAMC.org, a Northeast public radio outlet, new federal funding has been announced for the largest brownfields mill redevelopment project in New England.

“The region’s top federal environmental official says the project in Ludlow Massachusetts serves as example for reusing the scores of other abandoned industrial sites that dot the landscape,” the station reported.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $500,000 to the Ludlow Mills redevelopment project. The director of the New England region of the EPA, Curt Spalding said $400,000 will pay for asbestos removal at two former warehouse buildings and $100,000 will be used to assess future cleanup needs at the sprawling former mill complex.”

Those figures mean that nearly half a million in federal funding will go toward asbestos removal and cleanup costs, demonstrating the high priority placed on preventing mesothelioma.

The use and handling of asbestos has been strictly regulated in the United States since the 1970s because of the danger of mesothelioma. Billions of dollars have been paid out in jury verdicts and out-of-court settlements from mesothelioma lawsuits.

The majority of these damages have been paid to workers who were employed in jobs at high risk of asbestos exposure, such as U.S. Navy personnel, shipyard workers, auto mechanics, construction workers and assembly line employees.

In the New England project, the radio outlet reported, “Spalding announced the funding at a gathering of business and community leaders at the former mill property. He called it ‘good money following good money.’ Officials say approximately $6 million in federal and state funds have been put toward the redevelopment effort so far.”

WAMC reported that a $28 million rehabilitation hospital is being built on the site and that 120 construction workers are being hired with construction expected to start next year on a $24 million, 83-unit senior housing complex.

The station also wrote that the EPA has designated $12 million for cleanup projects in the New England region so far this year, placing the region at the top of national funding.

The station also reported that Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal said no private economic development would occur at places like Ludlow Mills without the federal government paying to rid the property of pollution.

“The Ludlow Mills redevelopment is being spearheaded by the Westmass Area Development Corporation, a private non-profit economic development group,” according to the report. “Ken Delude, the corporation’s president and CEO, said they are just 21 months into what is likely to be at least a 20- year redevelopment project.”

Project plans include a combination of commercial, industrial and some residential uses for the former mill which consists of about 60 buildings set on 170 acres along the Chicopee River, according to the radio report.

 

June 11, 2013 - Jury Awards $27.3 Million Damages to California Couple In Second-Hand Malignant Mesothelioma Case

In yet another case dramatizing the dangers of second-hand exposure to asbestos, a jury has awarded a California couple $27.3 million in damages in the latest of a serious of huge mesothelioma verdicts on behalf of plaintiffs.

The Alameda County Superior Court jury returned the verdict against Owens-Illinois Inc. in a case that involved asbestos exposure to the company’s Kaylo brand insulation products from 1950-1958.

Rose-Marie and Martin Grigg sued the company, claiming it was responsible for the wife developing mesothelioma, an incurable cancer, as a result of laundering her husband’s work clothes. Martin Grigg worked as an insulator for a company that used the Kaylo insulation.

According to the verdict form, Mrs. Grigg was awarded $12 million in damages for her pain and suffering, Mr. Grigg $4 million for his loss of consortium, and $342,500 in economic damages. The jury also decided to punish Owen-Illinois with $11 million in punitive damages.

The June 5 verdict is the latest huge jury award to mesothelioma victims in a history of litigation in which billions of dollars have been paid out to plaintiffs.

Legal and financial experts predict large asbestos-related legal fees will continue because many companies and large insurers have set aside billions more for anticipated future legal expenses.

Evidence presented in the case showed that Mrs. Grigg, now 82, was exposed to asbestos in the course of shaking out and washing her husband’s work clothing, according to a press release issued by her lawyers.

Evidence introduced during trial showed that Owens-Illinois, Inc. knew that asbestos exposure could cause death as early as the 1930s and that test results on Kaylo showed that exposure to the asbestos in the product could cause fatal disease, according to the court file.

Evidence presented showed that Owens-Illinois nonetheless advertised Kaylo as “non-toxic” and did not state that the product contained asbestos, according to the court file. Kaylo was packaged in boxes without warning about the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure.

Asbestos has long been identified as a toxic material and was widely used as an insulating agent and in a multitude of other construction uses until strict laws regulating its use and handling were put in place in the late 1970s.

National health officials say that the overwhelming numbers of cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos, usually in a workplace. Second-hand exposure is not unusual, particularly in the households of workers who handle asbestos on the job.

In the majority of cases, victims unknowingly inhale microscopic asbestos fibers which work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs.

There, over a span of several decades, as was the case with Mrs. Briggs, the fibers generate cancer cells which form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body.

Most victims are not diagnosed until the cancer is so far advanced that traditional treatments such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy are ineffective. Most victims are told after being diagnosed that their life expectancy will be less than 18 months.

National health statistics show that about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Insulators are among the workers most at risk of asbestos exposure, according to the statistics. Others disproportionately diagnosed with mesothelioma are U.S. Navy veterans, shipyard workers, auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, painters, roofers, tilers and assembly line workers.

“If we live in a society where product manufacturers are not held responsible for products once those products leave their possession, the world we live in is a dangerous place,” lawyers for the Griggs told the jury in their closing arguments.

The jury found that Owens-Illinois, Inc. manufactured a defective product, failed to adequately warn Mrs. Grigg, was negligent, and intentionally failed to disclose information about Kaylo-related health hazards to Mrs. Grigg, according to the verdict form. The jury also found that Owens-Illinois, Inc. acted with malice, oppression or fraud toward Mrs. Grigg.

The verdict was returned after six days of jury deliberations following a two-month trial (Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG12629580).

May 31, 2013 - New Study Shows Promise in Mesothelioma Cure Research

An exciting new development in the search for a cure for malignant mesothelioma and other cancers has been announced by Australian scientists.

The researchers, in a study reported in the Western Australian Science Network web site, are looking at ways to halt our bodies' natural immune system deterioration, which they link to increased susceptibility to mesothelioma and other cancers.

The basis of the study was a finding in testing on mice that boosting the benefits of white blood cells can resurrect a sagging immune system and fight off the cancer cells, according to the researchers.

This finding, as with many promising cancer research reports, is still in the early stages and yet to be tested in clinical tests on actual cancer victims but the researchers say they are very encouraged.

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused in the overwhelming number of cases from exposure to asbestos, most commonly in a workplace environment.

The common scenario involves a person unknowingly inhaling airborne, microscopic asbestos fibers which then work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs.

These fibers, over a span of time that usually takes several decades, then generate cancer cells which form deadly tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

Because there is such a long latency period most victims are not diagnosed with mesothelioma until they are in their 50s, 60s or 70s, which corresponds with the findings of Australian researchers and their theory about the declining immune systems.

In the United States about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. Unfortunately, because this aggressive cancer is usually too far advanced to be effectively treated by surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, most victims will have a life expectancy of less than 18 months after being diagnosed.

Here is the Science Network posting on the Australian cancer study findings:

 Western Australian researchers are bridging the gap in knowledge between the aging process and anti-cancer immune responses.

The majority of cancers, particularly mesothelioma and lung cancer, develop in the aging population, where it is well recognised that there is a decline in immune system function.

However, remarkably few studies have been published investigating the association between the age-related decline in immune system function and the development of cancer.

Research from Curtin University and the University of Western Australia published in Aging Cell, addressed this issue by investigating age-related and tumour-related dysfunction by examining a crucial cell of the immune system, the macrophage.

Macrophages are white blood cells involved in innate and adaptive immunity, where they phagocytose (remove) debris and pathogens while stimulating an immune response from other cells of the immune system.

Researchers found targeted immunotherapy of macrophages could improve age-related immune dysfunction.

“Macrophages make up to 50 per cent of the mesothelioma and lung cancer tumour burden, therefore representing a viable therapeutic target if we can understand how they function with age and tumour suppression,” Dr Connie Jackaman from Curtin University’s immunology and cancer group says.

A comparison was made between macrophage subpopulations in C57BL/6J healthy young mice and healthy geriatric (old) mice, when exposed to mesothelioma and lung carcinoma tumour cell-derived supernatants.

The establishment of a more immunosuppressive tumour microenvironment was observed in the geriatric mice.
An immunotherapy (IL-2/anti-CD40 antibody) which eradicates tumours in young hosts, was then examined for the potential to activate macrophages in geriatric mice.

This resulted in macrophage activation that rescued T cell production of IFN-γ in geriatric mice, indicating that macrophages targeted with appropriate activation signals could rescue both age-related and tumour-induced immune dysfunction.

“Immune dysfunction is not permanent and in fact can be restored to function similarly to a young immune system,” Dr Jackaman says.

“The public may be interested to know that as they get older it is not necessarily all downhill.

“The next step for our research group is to see if we can target macrophages in a live model and induce tumour regression in elderly immune systems.”

According to the Australian Government, cancer is the leading cause of total disease burden, with 124,910 Australians estimated to be diagnosed with cancer in 2013.

The study provides a much-needed basis for further research into activating immunity in the elderly population and could eventually lead to a possible immunotherapeutic treatment for cancer.

 

May 10, 2013 - Statistics Show Mesothelioma Cases Are Not Declining

Malignant mesothelioma is one of the rarest and deadliest of cancers. For several decades national health officials have been releasing figures that show that about 2,500 to 4,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.

Mesothelioma is overwhelmingly caused by exposure to asbestos. Victims who come in contact with airborne, microscopic asbestos fibers -- usually in a workplace environment -- breathe in this fibers, which work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs.

There, usually over a period of several decades, these fibers generate cancer cells which form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body. Most victims of mesothelioma are not diagnosed until they are in their 50s, 60s or 70s.

Strict environmental laws and regulations affecting the use, handling and disposal of asbestos have been in effect since the 1970s and it would seem likely that the number of cases of mesothelioma would be decreasing.
However, that appears not to be the case because the rate is holding steady at just over 3,000 according to one recent report.

To provide you some insight about these mesothelioma statistics, here is an abstract from one of the most recent studies about figures that was published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health:

·       BACKGROUND: The decline in asbestos use in the United States may impact mesothelioma incidence.

·       OBJECTIVE: This report provides national and state-specific estimates of mesothelioma incidence in the United States using cancer surveillance data for the entire US population.

·       METHODS: Data from the National Program for Cancer Registries and the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program were used to calculate incidence rates and annual percent change.

·       RESULTS: During 2003-2008, an average of 1·05 mesothelioma cases per 100 000 persons were diagnosed annually in the United States; the number of cases diagnosed each year remained level, whereas rates decreased among men and were stable among women.

·       CONCLUSION: US population-based cancer registry data can be used to determine the burden of mesothelioma and track its decline. Even 30 years after peak asbestos use in the United States, 3200 mesothelioma cases are diagnosed annually, showing that the US population is still at risk.
One of the reasons that health experts believe mesothelioma rates are not declining is that asbestos is still a commonplace component in many structures in the United States.

Damage from storms, earthquakes, tornadoes tsunamis and other natural disasters can damage buildings and free these fibers. Renovations of homes and urban redevelopment projects are commonplace across the country and can also contribute to the spread of asbestos.

Other studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as cited n a press release show that the states with the highest incidence of mesothelioma as a percentage of the population include New Jersey, Maine, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wyoming.

Other states reporting high incidences of mesothelioma include Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Idaho, Iowa, South Dakota, Louisiana, Vermont, Delaware, Connecticut, New Hampshire. Rhode Island, Idaho, Oregon, California, Texas, and Florida.
One startling mesothelioma statistic that stands out in such studies is that fact that some research indicates that as many as one-third of all American mesothelioma victims are U.S. Navy veterans. Not far behind in terms of percentage of victims are shipyard workers.

Their vulnerability comes as a result of their jobs. Asbestos was widely used in military shipbuilding until the last few decades and sailors and shipyard workers were exposed to asbestos on an almost daily basis.

Other occupations at increased risk of asbestos exposure included those in the construction trade -- such as electricians, plumbers, roofers, tile workers and carpenters -- auto mechanics, railroad workers, power plant workers and oil refinery workers.

If you once worked in such occupations, the American Cancer Society has provided the following information about testing and symptoms on the organization's web site:

"Screening for mesothelioma is not recommended in people who are not at increased risk. It is not clear how useful chest x-rays or CT scans are in finding mesothelioma early, but some doctors may advise them for people who have been exposed to asbestos.

"Blood tests to look for mesothelioma are now being studied. These tests measure the blood levels of certain substances that are higher in people who have mesothelioma. But right now blood tests are used mainly to follow the course of the disease in people who are already known to have mesothelioma."

Here is a section of the web site dealing with symptoms of mesothelioma:
"Most of the time mesothelioma is found when a person goes to a doctor because of symptoms. Early symptoms are not specific to the disease, so at first people may ignore them or mistake them for common, minor problems. Most people with this type of cancer have symptoms for at least a few months before the cancer is found.

"Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma (lining of the chest) can include:
·       Pain in the lower back or at the side of the chest
·       Shortness of breath
·       Cough
·       Fever
·       Sweating
·       Tiredness
·       Weight loss
·       Trouble swallowing
·       Hoarseness
·       Swelling of the face and arms
"Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma (lining of the abdominal cavity) can include:
·       Belly pain
·       Fluid or swelling in the abdomen (belly)
·       Weight loss
·       Nausea and vomiting
"Of course, these same symptoms can also be caused by other problems. But if you have worked with asbestos and you have any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor right away."

 

May 6, 2013 - Man Who Lost His Wife Is Awarded $291,000 In Tragic Second-Hand Mesothelioma Case

An Englishman who once worked as an electrician repairing asbestos-filled storage heaters has agreed to a legal settlement of about $291,000 for the loss of wife, who died of malignant mesothelioma three years ago.

The London Daily Mail reported that the 66-year-old woman developed mesothelioma after being exposed to that saturated her husband’s overalls that she regularly washed 40 years ago

Yvonne Moaby died of lung cancer mesothelioma in May 2010 and her husband, John Moaby, 71, after a lengthy legal fight has been awarded £187,000 in compensation in an out-of-court settlement by his former employer.

 The Daily Mail reported that the mother-of-three contracted the incurable lung cancer mesothelioma while husband John was repairing and stripping out storage heaters for four years in the 60s.

She was diagnosed in 2009 and died at her home in Quenington, Gloucestershire, in May 2010.

Mesothelioma is one of the deadliest of cancers and is overwhelmingly caused by exposure to asbestos, usually in a workplace environment. A much smaller percentage of the victims develop the disease, as did Yvonne Moaby, through second-hand exposure.

The disease develops after a victim unknowingly inhales microscopic particles of asbestos which fight off the body’s immune system and work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs.

There, over several decades, the fibers generate cancer cells which form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body.

As in the case of Yvonne Moaby, most mesothelioma cancers do not become symptomatic and are not diagnosed until the victims are in their 50s, 60s or 70s.

By then the cancer is usually so far advanced that traditional methods of treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation are not effective. There is no cure for mesothelioma.

The Daily Mail said Mr. Moaby secured the payment after the case went to the nation’s High Court.  He said: ‘It is nice [to have the money] but you can't put a value on someone's life. It's taken such a long time and a lot of heartache.'

 Moaby's case was eventually settled out of court, with SSE plc (formerly Scottish & Southern Energy) agreeing the compensation figure, according to the report.

The article also detailed several important factors about the widespread dangers of asbestos exposure:
“Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that became a popular building material in the 1950s. Widely used as insulation and a fire-deterrent, it also found its way into products such as ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers, sprayed coatings and garage roof tiles.

“Mesothelioma has a very strong association with exposure to asbestos. The disease affects the lining of the lungs and is almost always fatal, with survival from point of diagnosis is usually just 18 months.

“There were over 2,300 deaths from mesothelioma in the UK in 2009 – more than from cervical cancer or malignant melanoma.

“Twice as many people die from asbestos exposure in Britain as are killed on the roads, according to a recent All Party Parliamentary Group report.

“And mesothelioma incidence is still rising due to the long ‘time lag’ between exposure and the development of the disease – typically between 30 and 40 years.”

The newspaper also reported that mesothelioma is much less common in women – men account for 80 per cent of cases - they tend to work less in industry so have had less exposure.

“Asbestos fibres seem to alter the way in which cells multiply and divide,” Dr. John Moore-Gillon, an Honorary Medical Adviser at the British Lung Foundation told the newspaper. “Even a small amount of asbestos exposure – from clothes, for example – is enough.”

Christine Winter of the Independent Asbestos Training Providers, which champions safety and awareness when working with asbestos, told the Daily Mail that secondary exposure to asbestos is increasingly becoming a legal and insurance wrangle.

She said: “Unfortunately there is a real injustice of compensation pay outs for this area.”

Mr. Moaby described his wife to the newspaper as an unsung hero who worked tirelessly for the community and said that after three years he had still not recovered from losing her.

He said: “Yvonne was an angel. She was my rock. Long before her illness she said to me ‘If I go first, don’t sit around and vegetate - find someone else.’

“She was always there for me and it's only now I realise what she did.”

Mr. Moaby told the Daily Mail that they had managed to secure a £50,000 compensation payment while Yvonne was alive, which the couple spent on two exotic cruises before she became too ill to go away.

“She never complained once,” he said in the report. “She just kept saying 'I'm not going anywhere.’ She kept her looks and looked just as young as she did before she was ill.”

Although Yvonne Moaby spent some time at a hospice in Swindon, she spent her last days at home surrounded by her family and friends, according to the report.

 

April 22, 2013 -New Medical Research Study Links Smoking To Increased Risk of Asbestos-Caused Cancers

Pretty much everyone is now aware of the deadly health risks caused by smoking, especially the dangerous specter of developing cancer.

Now, a new study is showing more links between smoking and serious health problems, this time among individuals who have been exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos is a toxic material that is strictly regulated because of its danger to workers and the public at large. Exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis, some forms of lung cancer and, most commonly, malignant mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma develops after individuals are exposed to microscopic asbestos fibers, most commonly in the workplace, and these fibers work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs.

There, over several decades, these fibers generate cancer cells which form deadly tumors and can spread to other parts of the body.

Thousands of victims are diagnosed each year with asbestos-caused cancers and most will be told they will have a short life expectancy. The overwhelming number of  the cancers are not detected until victims are in their 60s or 70s and the cancer is so far advanced it cannot be effectively treated.

Most cases of asbestos-caused cancers occur in the workplace and the new study shows that those who smoke are at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer.

Here’s part of the most recent research as posted on the National Institutes of Health’s HealthDay web site:
 “Smokers exposed to asbestos who also have the lung condition asbestosis have a significantly raised risk of developing lung cancer, according to a new study.

Quitting smoking after long-term asbestos exposure, however, can dramatically reduce the odds of developing this form of cancer, the researchers said.

‘The interactions between asbestos exposure, asbestosis and smoking, and their influence on lung cancer risk are incompletely understood,’ study lead author Dr. Steven Markowitz, professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Queens College in New York City, said in a news release from the American Thoracic Society.

For the study, published online April 12 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, researchers looked at medical records for more than 2,000 long-term asbestos workers and more than 54,000 blue-collar workers without asbestos exposure (the control group).

‘We found that each individual risk factor was associated with increased risk of developing lung cancer, while the combination of two risk factors further increased the risk and the combination of all three risk factors increased the risk of developing lung cancer almost 37-fold,’ Markowitz said.

Nonsmokers with asbestos exposure had a death rate more than five times that of the people in the control group. When asbestos exposure was combined with smoking, the death rate from lung cancer was more than 28 times higher, the researchers found.

Asbestosis -- scarring of the lungs caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers -- compounds the problem, the researchers said. The study showed death rates from lung cancer were nearly 37 times higher among smokers exposed to asbestos who also had asbestosis.

But death rates from lung cancer dropped significantly among the asbestos workers who stopped smoking. In the decade after quitting, lung cancer mortality dropped from 177 deaths per 10,000 among smokers to 90 per 10,000 among former smokers, the study showed. Asbestos workers who stopped smoking for more than 30 years had lung cancer rates similar to asbestos insulators who never smoked, the researchers said.

‘Our study provides strong evidence that asbestos exposure causes lung cancer through multiple mechanisms,’ Markowitz said. ‘Importantly, we also show that quitting smoking greatly reduces the increased lung cancer risk seen in this population.’

The authors acknowledged that their findings were limited by the fact that the men's smoking status and asbestosis were assessed only once, and some of the men in the control group could have had some limited exposure to asbestos.”

Asbestos in the workplace has been grounds for tens of thousands of asbestos lawsuits in which billions of dollars have been paid out in settlements and jury awards to asbestos victims and their loved ones.

The number of asbestos lawsuits is expected to remain steady for the next several years and large companies and insurers have set aside tens of billions more dollars in funds to cover expected legal costs, according to financial figures that have been made public.

 

January 17, 2013 -

STUDY SHOWS WOMEN ARE THE OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF VICTIMS OF SECOND-HAND EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS

It's long been known that second-hand exposure, as opposed to direct exposure, to asbestos can cause several deadly cancers, such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

Now, a recent study in Ireland shows just how deadly that second-hand exposure can be.

Findings show that while men are still by far the highest number of victims of this disease, a large proportion of the female victims developed these cancers from asbestos fibers and dust brought home by their spouses.

As in the United States, asbestos was widely used and lightly regulated until a few decades ago. The toxic material was a commonly used component in construction and most older homes and buildings still have large amounts of asbestos in them.

According to the results of the study published in the Irish newspaper The Independent, the tradesmen who worked as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, welders, mechanics and other occupations that dealt with asbestos suffered a deadly toll from the material.

Those same trades show up as contributing the largest percentage of victims in the United States, as well as shipyard workers and U.S. Navy veterans.

As The Independent reported:

"Women who were exposed to deadly asbestos from the fibres and dust brought home on the work clothes of their tradesmen husbands are among the victims of an aggressive form of cancer.

A new report has provided fresh insights into cases of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, or abdomen.

Asbestos was used in construction, motor and other industries for generations but, when it is disturbed, tiny fibres are released into the air and if breathed in they can become trapped in people's lungs for years.

An average of 24 people are newly diagnosed annually with mesothelioma, which can take up to 60 years to develop after first exposure.

Men are over five times more likely to be diagnosed than women – but many of the female patients are the wives of tradesmen such as electricians and carpenters who would have brought home the asbestos fibres from work."

The report quoted findings from the country's National Cancer Registry which said: "Secondary exposure to asbestos is more probable in women, who are less likely to have direct work-related exposure.

"90pc of female mesothelioma patients were, or had been, married compared to 81pc of female lung cancer patients (where secondary exposure to tobacco is also an important risk factor) and 77pc of all female cancer patients."

The report found that the majority of the patients are between the ages of 60 and 80 when diagnosed, with roughly one third in their 60s and a similar portion in their 70s. However, 18 percent of women were aged under 50 at diagnosis, compared to just 3 percent of male patients. Only 10 percent of all patients were aged 80 or older.

"In Ireland, asbestos was mostly used from the 1960s to the mid-1980s. It was banned on a phased basis under legislation in 1994 and 1998 and a general prohibition on its use was introduced under EU regulations in 2004," said the report.

Exposure to asbestos has been found to be the overwhelming cause of these cancers. The most common, mesothelioma, can take several decades to develop after the asbestos fibers lodge themselves in a victim's lungs, heart or abdominal organs.

There is no cure for mesothelioma and because most victims are not diagnosed until the cancer is well developed traditional cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are not effective.

According to the report in The Independent, the Health and Safety Authority said that asbestos is now banned, but products or materials containing asbestos, which were already installed or in service, can remain in place until they are disposed of or reach the end of their service life.

"As a result, there is still potential for exposure to asbestos in a variety of workplaces due to the large quantities of the material used in buildings in the past. As long as the asbestos is in good condition and there is no disturbance or damage to the asbestos containing material, it will not pose a risk to health as fibres will not be released."

January 15, 2013 -

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION QUERIED ON ASBESTOS CASE

It doesn't draw the same headlines and attract public fascination the way mass-murder cases or big-name technology lawsuits do but asbestos litigation is still an important player in our court system.

Not many people are aware of this but asbestos lawsuits have been filed in huge numbers over the last several decades and billions of dollars have been paid to victims and their loved ones to compensate them for asbestos-caused diseases such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

Most recently the legal question of what protection huge companies may enjoy from asbestos lawsuits has been playing out before the U.S. Supreme Court and now it looks like the Obama Administration may become involved.

Supreme Court justices recently asked the Obama administration to submit its views on an appeal to the Supreme Court by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. in which Pfizer is attempting to block a series of asbestos lawsuits over products manufactured by a Pfizer subsidiary, the Quigley Co.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer argues that the lawsuits, filed in Pennsylvania on behalf of individuals allegedly harmed by asbestos-containing Quigley insulation products, should be barred by a bankruptcy-court injunction related to Quigley's chapter 11 proceedings.

The report said that injunction stopped plaintiffs from bringing Quigley-related asbestos claims against Pfizer while Quigley's bankruptcy case was ongoing.

The news site also reported that lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that despite the injunction, certain asbestos claims against Pfizer could proceed because they were based on legal theories not covered by the injunction.

The lawsuits argued that Pfizer itself was the product manufacturer because its logo appeared on Quigley documents, advertising and products, according to the report.

The Wall Street Journal said that last April, the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the lawsuits could be brought against Pfizer. The Supreme Court, in a short written order, asked the U.S. solicitor general to file a legal brief expressing the Obama administration's views on whether the justices should hear the case.

Asbestos lawsuits continue to be filed against Pfizer and many other large corporations over allegations including negligence in the handling of the toxic material.

Malignant mesothelioma, the most common asbestos-caused disease, is a cancer that is diagnosed in about 2,000 to 3,000 Americans each year and most are told they will have less than 18 months to live because there is no cure.

Mesothelioma develops after victims are exposed to asbestos and inhale microscopic, airborne fibers that work their way into the linings of a victim's lungs, heart or abdominal organs. There, over several decades, the fibers generate cancer cells which are usually so far advanced by the time that they are found that little can be done for the victims.

In the Pfizer case, its subsidiary, Quigley, manufactured asbestos-containing products for the steel industry from the 1940s to the 1970s. The company was acquired by Pfizer acquired Quigley in 1968.

Reuters News Service recently researcher the number of asbestos lawsuits and compiled an in-depth report that said:

"Half a century after the first wave of lawsuits were filed for illnesses linked to exposure to asbestos and 40 years after new regulation sharply curtailed use of the insulating and fire-resistant mineral, the asbestos-litigation business is booming.

Some of the country's biggest and best-known law firms -- many of them handling asbestos cases almost exclusively -- say the number of lawsuits filed annually, after falling off from a peak, has picked up in recent years. More important, they say, is that payouts for plaintiffs who win their cases have soared."

Reuters also reported that a "tabulation of jury verdicts and settlements, based on an average of all asbestos-related lawsuits reported in Westlaw Journal Asbestos, a Thomson Reuters publication, found that the average award was $6.3 million in 2009, $17.6 million in 2010 and $10.5 million in 2011 -- amounts much greater than what lawyers say was the norm more than a decade earlier.

Clearly, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related payouts persist at levels companies and their insurers never expected. Insurers have been adding hundreds of millions of dollars to their asbestos-claim reserves. Travelers Cos, in its annual report for 2011, echoed its peers when it cited a 'high degree of uncertainty with respect to future exposure from asbestos claims.'"

January 10, 2013 -

REDEVELOPER ATTEMPTS TO PREVENT ASBESTOS EXPOSURE DANGERS BY PROVIDING WORKER HEALTH TESTS

It's a tragic but true fact that that there are unscrupulous contractors, redevelopers and even government regulators who put workers and the public at serious risk of exposure to the toxic material asbestos.

Pocketing extra dollars at the expense of serious health concerns, those who attempt to sidestep our strict environmental laws are being caught more frequently, as recent headlines reveal.

Prison sentences, stiff fines, cleanup orders and other penalties are being imposed upon these individuals by prosecutors and judges attempting to preserve public safety.

Therefore, it's more than encouraging to note when a situation arises in which health concerns are put ahead of profits in the handling of asbestos, as was recently the case in Lowell, Mass.

Redevelopment officials should be applauded for approving a plan in which the health of workers will be protected by testing to prevent asbestos poisoning.

Asbestos is particularly dangerous during renovations because it is a very common component in older buildings. When they are demolished or remodeled there is always the danger of asbestos being disturbed and toxic, microscopic particles being freed into the atmosphere.

When inhaled, these particles can work their way into the linings of a victim's lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over several decades, generate such deadly cancers as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

Victims of these diseases usually are given less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed and many of them or their survivors have sued those responsible for causing asbestos exposure. Billions of dollars have been paid out in settlements and jury awards in these cases.

A different direction is being taken in Lowell, according to this posting by the Lowell Sun:

"Several months after questions were raised about the Lowell Housing Authority's possible improper handling of asbestos during a major renovation project, the agency has agreed to pay for and promote the opportunity for its maintenance employees to get tested for asbestos poisoning.

LHA Executive Director Gary Wallace said Wednesday he has consented to the request put forth by the union representing the maintenance employees because he wants to allay any concerns LHA workers may have about exposure to asbestos.

'It makes sense for some of the older people who might have worries,' Wallace told The Sun. 'We also want to put the issue to rest.'

Angelo Karabatsos, president of the union representing the LHA's maintenance workers, said the idea of employees receiving asbestos testing first emerged last year after the LHA decided to bring on a environmental consultant to determine how much asbestos is present at all of its major developments.

The decision to hire a consultant came in the months following the City Council's call for an investigation into whether asbestos was handled improperly during the LHA's renovations at North Common Village from 2008 to 2011. The Inspector General's Office released a report in October saying there was no evidence asbestos was removed during the project, but two other state agencies determined that proper testing was not done prior to the work.

Also, the LHA's consultant found asbestos in the second layer of floor tile and associated mastic of the only North Common unit it tested over the summer.

Karabatsos said Wednesday he put forward the testing proposal so his members who want the testing because of concerns have access to it. He is strongly encouraging his members who have been at the LHA the longest to get tested because many of the old buildings at the LHA used to be full of asbestos and some still remains.

'The guys who have been there many years would be wise to get tested to put their minds at ease,' Karabatsos said. 'There is no doubt in my mind some of them were interacting with asbestos for years.'

Karabatsos praised the LHA for agreeing to set a specific date, time and place for the testing and make sure LHA employees are aware of it.

Workers can also get tested for unhealthy exposure to lead, added Karabatsos. He estimates close to 50 LHA employees would be eligible to receive the testing.

'The housing authority is living up to their responsibility to their workers,' Karabatsos said.

Both Wallace and Karabatsos said they expect the testing to be scheduled for some time in the coming weeks.

The health consequences for exposure to asbestos fibers and lead paint can be very severe. Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to tissue scarring, lung diseases and mesothelioma.

Meanwhile, unhealthy exposure to lead can cause lead poisoning, which has a variety of symptoms, including a decline in mental functioning.

Also Wednesday, the LHA's board of commissioners took action to prevent exposure to asbestos in one place it was recently identified: the crawl spaces of two developments where the steam pipes go underground from one building to the next."

January 8, 2013 -

PENALTY FOR ASBESTOS VIOLATORS TERMED TOO LIGHT; MESOTHELIOMA RISKS TO PUBLIC, WORKERS CITED

What should be the proper penalty for exposing the public and workers to the risks of asbestos? In the case of a Vancouver, Canada, environmental violator a $70,000 fine is not enough, according to a labor leader.

The Vancouver case is repeated again and again in courtrooms across Canada and the United States, where unscrupulous businesses, executives and sometimes government officials blatantly put the health of others at risk in return for financial gain.

Asbestos is incredibly dangerous. An internationally recognized toxic material, exposure to asbestos can cause several deadly cancers, including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Asbestos is widespread and until the 1970s was widely used in a myriad of uses, particularly in construction and in insulation. It would be difficult to find any part of either country in which older buildings are not lined with asbestos, be it under floor tiles or in roofing shingles.

If it is not disturbed, asbestos poses little danger. But when disturbed through storm damage, renovations or remodeling tiny asbestos particles are freed and become airborne.

These microscopic particles then are unknowingly inhaled by victims, lodge themselves in the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over several decades, generate cancer cells. The most common cancer, mesothelioma, claims about 2,000 to 3,000 new victims annually and there is no cure.

Asbestos violators have also been subjected to tens of thousands of asbestos lawsuits filed by workers and other victims of asbestos exposure. Shipyard workers, Navy veterans, auto mechanics and construction trade workers have been most at risk and have collected tens of billions of dollars in settlements and jury awards.

The Vancouver case involved the imposition of a $70,000 fine on a disposal company that illegally accepted and stored asbestos even though it was not licensed to do so.

Asbestos is so deadly that special regulations apply to the handling of the material and workers are required to wear special safety equipment to avoid exposure.

The disposal company didn't follow regulations and didn't provide protective equipment, according to the allegations of which it was convicted. Open and torn bags of material containing asbestos were found stacked at the company's facility.

The company was fined after pleading guilty to three charges of violating environmental laws. For one labor union leader – and union workers are among the highest number of victims of asbestos exposure – the punishment was not enough.

He wrote this letter to the Vancouver Sun newspaper:

"Re: Richmond disposal firm fined $70K for illegal asbestos storage, Jan. 3. While I applaud the Metro Vancouver enforcement officer for blowing the whistle on the Richmond disposal firm for illegally accepting and storing asbestos, I question the penalty issued by the provincial court.

A $70,000 fine is too low a penalty for jeopardizing the lives of workers.

The disposal firm had 60 cubic metres of bagged materials, with some of the bags with holes or not sealed. This clearly was not an oversight, but a deliberate attempt to circumvent regulations.

Asbestos ranks as a leading cause of worker disease and death in B.C.

According to WorkSafeBC, of the 143 accepted fatality claims last year, 75 were the result of occupational disease with the majority of these being attributed to exposure to asbestos.

Criminal charges should be laid against those who put workers lives at risk through asbestos exposure.

Paul Faoro President, CUPE Local 15"

It is not uncommon for businesses and executives to be fined for asbestos violations. What is becoming increasingly concerning is the fact that increasing numbers of government officials are being implicated in such violations. And, in such cases, criminal charges are being filed.

Recent headlines in New York, for instance, document cases in which government inspectors were sentenced to prison terms for their involvement in schemes to sidestep asbestos laws in return for financial gain.

December 20, 2012 -

SUPERSTORM SANDY GENERATES ASBESTOS FEARS

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy battered residents of the Eastern Seaboard will spend months digging themselves out of the wreckage left in the storm of the century's wake.

However, federal environmental officials are warning that the dangers from the storm are not over because there are hidden health hazards of which many people are not aware.

Specifically, the officials are talking about toxic materials, such as asbestos, for instance. Asbestos is everywhere in homes, offices, schools, roadways and in most areas in which insulation has been in place for years.

Normally, if asbestos is not disturbed, it does not pose a health hazard. When it is disturbed, such as in the aftermath of a huge storm such as Sandy, it can be deadly.

Exposure to asbestos causes several deadly cancers including malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Mesothelioma is the most common and develops after victims unknowingly inhale microscopic particles floating in the air, as is feared the case in some area hit by Sandy.

These particles invade the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over several decades, generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body. There is no cure and most victims are told after being diagnosed that they will have less than 18 months to live.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger has been at the center of much of the storm coverage and profiled the toxic fears message that officials are spreading on the paper's news site:

"TRENTON — As residents and business owners start to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, state and federal officials are trying to get one message out loud and clear: Beware of hidden health hazards.

At a forum Monday to discuss the health impacts the storm can have on New Jerseyans, the representatives said mold, asbestos and lead paint are of particular concern because of all the do-it-yourselfers who don't know what they're doing.

'These are issues that can affect workers, residents that are living in homes and tenants, and also volunteers who are graciously donating their time and their energy to clean up their communities,' said Judith Enck, regional administrator for the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

'We want to make sure that as the clean up is occurring that there are not problems with exposure to mold, exposure to lead, exposure to asbestos.'

Exposure to mold can cause respiratory problems, particularly among those who do not wear the appropriate attire when removing moldy wall board.

Enck was one of six panelists who addressed a crowd of about 100 at the Wall Township headquarters of the Local Union 400 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is starting to fine contractors whose failure to adhere to safety regulations puts workers at risk of health dangers, said Robert Kulick, regional administrator for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Kulick said OSHA is enforcing regulations aimed at preventing the four leading causes of fatalities after hurricanes: falling from high elevations, being electrocuted, being struck by objects and being caught between objects, such as heavy equipment."

November 9, 2012 -

HUGE $8 MILLION JURY VERDICT AWARDED
TO MESOTHELIOMA VICTIM AND HIS FAMILY

In what is being described as the largest mesothelioma verdict in California in 2012 so far a Los Angeles Superior Court jury has awarded a $48 million verdict to a mesothelioma patient and his family.

The recent verdict is the latest in a successful string of jury verdicts and settlements this year in which victims of malignant mesothelioma have held large manufacturers of asbestos and employers responsible for causing the aggressive cancer in victims.

As Reuters News Service reported: "Half a century after the first wave of lawsuits were filed for illnesses linked to exposure to asbestos and 40 years after new regulation sharply curtailed use of the insulating and fire-resistant mineral, the asbestos-litigation business is booming. Some of the country's biggest and best-known law firms -- many of them handling asbestos cases almost exclusively -- say the number of lawsuits filed annually, after falling off from a peak, has picked up in recent years. More important, they say, is that payouts for plaintiffs who win their cases have soared."

In the Los Angeles case, the jurors found that a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, Union Carbide, Riverside Cement, CalPortland and others were responsible for the asbestos exposure that led to the patient's mesothelioma.

The jury completely rejected defense arguments that the asbestos that was proven to be in their products did not cause the victim's cancer, according to lawyers for the victim and his family.

Asbestos is the overwhelming cause of malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive, deadly cancer for which there is no cure. The typical case involves exposure at a work place where microscopic particles of asbestos become airborne and then are inhaled.

These tiny fibers eventually work their way into the linings of a victim's lungs, heart or abdominal organs, fight off the body's immune system and, over several decades generate cancer cells.

One of the most dangerous aspects of mesothelioma is that by the time that it is diagnosed it is usually so far advanced that it cannot be treated through traditional approaches such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Most victims are told after being diagnosed that they will have less than 18 months to live.

Lawyers for the victim said that during the trial, Union Carbide presented several paid expert witnesses who argued that the company's asbestos –trade named “Calidria asbestos” –does not cause cancer. However, according to court documents, confidential internal memos have revealed that even Union Carbide staff physicians reprimanded the company's marketing and sales groups for telling customers its asbestos did not cause disease, even cancer.

The lawyers said two other defendants involved in the trial, Riverside Cement and CalPortland, also hired expert witnesses to testify that the amount of asbestos released from their products was trivial. However, according to court documents, bags of their construction products have been scientifically shown to have quadrillions of fibers of asbestos material.

While the jury found blame with all of the defendants, they assigned $18 million in punitive damages to Union Carbide for its corporate cover-up of the dangers associated with asbestos exposure, according to the verdict.

In another case, the Madison-St. Clair Record Illinois legal site reports that a  Fairview Heights man’s asbestos suit that went to trial recently in Madison County has settled.

The report said that attorneys in the case had presented opening statements to jurors in a case against defendants Ford Motor Co. and John Crane Co. They were sent home in the afternoon and were expected to return but the settlement will end the trial.

Plaintiff Donald Lehr, who suffers from mesothelioma, had been expected to testify. But, two sets of attorneys – one aimed at settling and another preparing for trial – worked the case over the weekend, according to Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison, according to the report.

“Once they’re in trial, their schedule goes to whatever they need,” said Harrison, who did not reveal what the case settled for. “At this point, you know as much as me,” he said.

It is not uncommon for settlements to be reached in mesothelioma lawsuits, even on the eve or during a trial. Legal experts say that defense attorneys often attempt to avoid having to pay even larger jury awards in some cases and settle the cases out of court rather than risk a trial verdict.

The web site said Lehr filed the lawsuit Jan. 19 against Ford, John Crane and 57 other defendant companies. Ford and John Crane were the two remaining companies at the start of trial Friday.

The report said that the victim blamed Ford for his mesothelioma, but Ford attorneys told the jury Lehr’s work at Ford did not expose him to asbestos. Lehr was a pipefitter at Ford’s Hazlewood plant from 1984 until his retirement in 1997, according to the report

The web site reported that Lehr's attorney also told the jury Ford did not comply with regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In another major award for an asbestos victim earlier this year, a Virginia jury has awarded the family of a former shipyard worker who died of an asbestos-caused cancer $9.18 million in damages.

In that case a Newport News jury found on behalf of the widow and two sons of John K. Bristow, who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma after he retired from Newport News Shipbuilding, where he had worked for 37 years, according to testimony in the case.

The defendant in the case, asbestos manufacturer John Crane Inc. was found to have “substantially contributed” to the Virginia Beach man’s death at the age of 68 a year ago. Bristow retired as a design engineer at the shipyard and, according to medical testimony at the trial, probably was exposed to the asbestos that led to him developing mesothelioma in the 1960s to 1970s.

 

October 2, 2012

THREE MEN SLAPPED WITH PRISON SENTENCES IN ILLEGAL ASBESTOS DEMOLITION THAT HIRED HOMELESS WORKERS

Three men convicted of several crimes in what prosecutors said was one of the most notorious asbestos violation cases they have seen have been sentenced to prison terms for their role in a Tennessee demolition scam.

Prosecutors said the illegal operation involved the hiring of homeless workers who were untrained and unequipped to deal with a project involving toxic materials. Officials said that in addition to the health of the workers being put at serious risk of asbestos exposure, a large segment of residents and passersby may also have been exposed to asbestos particles that became airborne.

The project involved such illegal activities and public health hazards that officials have posted legal notices in the affected area encouraging witnesses and individuals who may have been exposed to asbestos to come forward and notify authorities.

Asbestos is toxic

Asbestos has been identified by U.S. and international health officials as a carcinogen and exposure to the material puts individuals at risk of developing several deadly asbestos-caused diseases, including malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

The most common is mesothelioma, a cancer for which there is no cure and develops after victims inhale airborne, microscopic fibers that lodge in the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs. The disease has a lengthy latency period --usually several decades -- so health officials said it will not be until the distant future until it can be determined if anyone exposed to the asbestos released in the demolition develops the cancer.

The three Chattanooga men were sentenced by a federal judge recently for the crimes they committed in what prosecutors said was the pollution of an East Chattanooga area community as a result of their bungled handling of asbestos in a project that involved the demolition of where the former Standard-Coosa-Thatcher plant, an old textile mill.

Prosecutors targeting environmental crimes

The convictions are the latest in a series of asbestos violations that have been prosecuted by state and federal officials across the country in what prosecutors said is an enforcement targeted to protect the health of workers and the public at large.

Convicted of numerous charges, including conspiracy and Clean Air Act violations were Don Fillers, David Wood and James Mathis. According to court records, U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier imposed sentences of four years on Fillers, 20 months on Wood and 18 months on Mathis.

Significant fines also were imposed: $20,000 for Fillers and $30,000 for his company, the Watkins Street Project, and an additional order of nearly $28,000 in restitution to be paid to the Environmental Protection Agency, Chattanooga Department of Public Works and Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that defense attorneys previously indicated they plan to appeal the jury's verdict and that all three men are set to report to prison Nov. 16.

Between August 2004 and December 2005, demolition created asbestos-containing dust that blew throughout the area of 17th Street between Watkins and Dodds avenues, across the street from residential housing and near a day care center.

Newspaper account of details:

Fillers, the property owner, along with his employee, work site foreman Wood and demolition contractor Mathis, were charged in a 10-count indictment with conspiracy to defraud the United States, Clean Air Act violations, false statements, obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting.

The jury found the defendants guilty on all counts save one minor one against Mathis: failure to have a trained (asbestos) individual on site. He alone was found not guilty on that count.

Prosecutors proved that the men "not only lied to authorities to cover up their actions, but they also hired homeless and untrained workers to perform illegal asbestos removal," said Maureen O'Mara, special agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency's criminal enforcement program in Tennessee.

Fillers' company, Watkins Street Project, also was found guilty in the case. Similar charges against Mathis' company, Mathis Cos. Inc., were dismissed on recommendation from prosecutors.

Throughout the January trial, prosecutors focused on greed as the prime motive for the uncontrolled demolition, saying it was simply cheaper and faster to tear down the factory without proper oversight over the asbestos.

Defense attorneys for each of the three men claimed in the trial that their clients did not knowingly pollute and placed much of the responsibility on local regulators who could have stopped asbestos exposure with better enforcement.

U.S. Attorney William Killian said environmental cases are a top priority because of the health risks involved. "These sentences send a strong message that criminal violations of environmental laws designed to protect human health from exposure to hazardous substances, such as asbestos, will not be tolerated," he said in a news release.

September 25, 2012

AUSTRALIAN OFFICIALS REPORT LONGER LIFE SPANS FOR SOME CANCER VICTIMS BUT NOT THOSE DIAGNOSED WITH MESOTHELIOMA OR PANCREATIC CANCERS

There is encouraging news for many cancer victims in statistics released by Australian health officials in which government figures show increases in life expectancies of those suffering from the disease. According to an announcement by the country's Institute of Health and Welfare, there was an increase from 47 percent to 66 percent in the five-year survival rate from all cancers reported between 1987 and 2010.

The good news was somewhat diluted by the fact that that there wasn't much progress made in increasing the life expectancies of those suffering from mesothelioma, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. The institute's Anne Bech described the mixed results:

"So the cancers that had the largest survival gains over time were prostate cancer, kidney cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma," she said. "But we didn't see much improvement in mesothelioma, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer."

The statistics showed that women recorded higher survival rates after a cancer diagnosis than men at 67 per cent, compared to 65 per cent.

Here's an analysis of the report from the New Zealand Herald:

Cancer patients are increasingly living longer with 66 per cent now surviving for at least five years - a dramatic rise from the 47 per cent rate for all cancers combined in the mid-1980s.

The cancers with the largest so-called survival gains from 1982-1987 to 2006-2010 were prostate and kidney cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows.

The only cancers for which survival rates didn't improve were lip, larynx and brain cancer along with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

"While overall cancer survival is improving in Australia variations still exist between types of cancer," AIHW spokeswoman Anne Bech said in a statement.

Between 2006 and 2010 the cancers with the highest survival rates were testicular, lip, prostate and thyroid cancer along with melanoma of the skin. All had a five-year survival rate of 90 per cent or more.

But sadly pancreatic cancer and mesothelioma remain incredibly lethal. They have the lowest survival rate with less than 10 per cent of patients alive five years after diagnosis.

Women generally survived longer than men and younger people had higher survival rates than older people.

In good news for people who have already survived five years, the AIHW study found they had a 90 per chance of living for another five for all cancers combined.

In the 25 years to 2007 the incidence of all cancers rose by 27 per cent but deaths from the disease fell by 16 per cent.

The survival rate for all cancers combined has steadily increased since 1982-1987 when it was 47 per cent.

It was 52 per cent in 1988-1993, 58 per cent six years later and 62 per cent in the 2000-2005 time period.

* Survival is a general term indicating the probability of being alive for a given amount of time after a diagnosis of cancer.

The dangers of mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused cancer, have been drawing particular attention recently in Australia as a growing number of deaths caused by the aggressive disease are being reported.

An international incident recently occurred that outraged environmentalists and consumer advocates as well as government officials when it was discovered that China's two largest automakers were exporting vehicles that contained asbestos parts to the country.

China, which is trying to become a world player in automobile production and sales, was forced to recall the vehicles and then endured additional embarrassment when similar situations where discovered in other countries.

Asbestos is a toxic material that is strictly regulated in most westernized countries. Exposure to asbestos particles can lead to mesothelioma after microscopic particles are inhaled and then invade the linings of a victim's lungs, heart or abdominal organs.

Over several decades these particles generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body and by the time most cases are diagnosed the cancer is so far advanced it is untreatable and most victims are told they will have a life expectancy of less than 18 months.

September 18, 2012

NEW REPORTS SHOW THAT PAYOUTS TO ASBESTOS VICTIMS CONTINUE TO BE IN THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS

There has been a spirited war waged in the last few decades against the dangers of asbestos in which environmentalists and asbestos victims -- through successful asbestos lawsuits -- have successfully forced a significant cutback in asbestos production, distribution and use as well as holding those responsible for exposing workers and the public to this toxic material financially responsible for their actions.

Payouts to asbestos victims have climbed into the billions of dollars and the number of lawsuits filed on behalf of victims of asbestos-caused diseases such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer are increasing, according to court statistics.

The Canadian government's decision to abandon its efforts to prop up that country's asbestos industry and join dozens of other countries in backing bans and restrictions on asbestos is one of the latest success stories claimed by anti-asbestos activists.

Now, the respected financial news agency Bloomberg News has posted a series of environmental success stories that puts the movement in perspective and includes an insightful segment on asbestos lawsuits:

It's no wonder so many environmentalists sound like downers. Forests are being wiped out at the rate of one Costa Rica-size parcel a year. Cities such as Beijing and New Delhi choke on smog. Global temperatures and tides continue an unrelenting climb.

Don't despair! Forty years after the environmental movement peaked, the world has some historic success stories that reduce pollution and save lives every day. This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, a model international agreement that reduced pollution-inflicted damage to the Earth's protective ozone layer.

Asbestos

The first medical article about the dangers of asbestos was published in the British Medical Journal in 1924. It led to regulations that controlled dust emissions from U.K. factories. Four decades passed before scientists confirmed just how inadequate those restrictions were.

Asbestos is actually a name for six mined substances used in manufacturing for their durability and heat resistance. Asbestos particles break away and are easily inhaled into the lungs, where they can lead to fatal diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Studies in the 1960s confirmed that the risk extended from the factory floor to suburban homes, where asbestos construction materials and brake pads were ubiquitous.

Lawsuits in the 1970s revealed that corporations knew about the risks for decades and concealed them from the public. Most of the companies that mined or used asbestos have since gone bankrupt, after billions of dollars in litigation losses. Even with strict regulations now in place across much of the world, researchers say deaths from past exposures will continue well into the 21st century.

U.S. health officials estimate that there are about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma -- the most common asbestos-caused cancer -- diagnosed in the country each year. As the article pointed out, the overwhelming number of cases involve exposure to asbestos in which the particles lodge in the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and generate cancer cells which form deadly tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

In most cases, the cancer takes several decades to develop and then proceeds so aggressively that by the time most victims are diagnosed traditional cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy are not effective and most victims are given life expectancies of less than 18 months.

With more cases expected into the 21st Century, the number of asbestos lawsuits on behalf of victims has continued to increase. Even though, as Bloomberg notes, billions of dollars in litigation costs have been suffered by those responsible for many of the diseases suffered by asbestos victims, settlements and jury awards are continuing to be won on behalf of new victims.

Many large companies and insurance companies also have anticipated incurring future legal costs in damages to these victims by reporting that they have set aside billions of dollars more in trusts and accounts designated for asbestos legal costs.

The Rand Corporation recently posted an analysis of asbestos lawsuits, which it described as "the longest-running mass tort litigation in the United States, arose as a result of individuals' exposure to asbestos and the failure of many product manufacturers to protect their workers."

Rand also reported that there have been sharp increases recently in the number of asbestos-related claims filed annually and in the number and types of firms named as defendants and posted these facts about the dimensions of the litigation:

  • The number of asbestos claims has increased sharply through the 1990s and into the 2000s.
  • About 730,000 people in the United State filed compensation claims for asbestos-related injuries from the early 1970s through the end of 2002, costing businesses and insurance companies more than $70 billion.
  • An increasing share of claims since the 1990s is being brought by workers exposed to asbestos in industries such as the textile, paper, glass and food industries, where workers did not routinely handle asbestos, but asbestos was present in the workplace.

September 11, 2012

MESOTHELIOMA WILL BE AMONG CANCERS COVERED BY GOVERNMENT IN WAKE OF 9/11 ATTACKS

Malignant mesothelioma and about 50 other cancers suffered by rescue and recovery workers in the fallout of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City's World Trade Center are now being included as diseases covered by a special compensation fund for 9/11 victims.

Eleven years after the disastrous attack in which two commercial jetliners full of aviation fuel were flown into the buildings, causing their demolition and a massive toxic fallout, government officials have announced the expansion of long sought-after benefits.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when the buildings collapsed, claiming the lives of office employees, visitors, tourists, nearby residents and rescue workers, as well as passengers and crew of the airliners. Since the attacks it is estimated that nearly 1,000 others have died from causes directly attributable to the toxic cloud of asbestos and other toxic materials caused by the destruction.

Congress approved the $4.3 billion Zadroga Act to compensate sick responders for monitoring and treatment of 9/11-caused illnesses but officials had initially resisted payouts for cancers, concluding that there was no clear link between the diseases and what happened at 9/11.

However, the government was forced to change its position as increased numbers of personnel who responded to the disaster reported developing cancers and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health finally agreed recently that the long list of cancers being reported should be included for eligibility.

Among the cancers are mesothelioma, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, melanoma, lymphoma, ovarian cancer, oral cavity cancer, urinary tract cancer soft tissue sarcomas and dozens of other cancers.

"The publication of this final rule marks an important step in the effort to provide needed treatment and care to 9/11 responders and survivors through the World Trade Center Health Program," said Dr. John Howard, the program administrator.

Government officials said that medical research about the links between the cancers that were being reported and the toxic materials that were released after the disaster confirmed that the cancers were actually suffered as a result of responder's exposure.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the decision should have come much earlier: "We have urged from the very beginning that the decision whether or not to include cancer be based on science," Bloomberg said in a statement released by his office. The mayor also expressed concerns about whether there will be sufficient money in the fund to compensate all of the victims.

At least 400,000 tons of asbestos was included in the World Trade Center buildings for fireproofing and insulation and the material already had been the subject of concern from environmental agencies before the attacks.

Some health experts say the destruction of the buildings probably released most of that asbestos into the atmosphere, as well as 20,000 gallons of jet fuel, tons of organic debris and hundreds of chemicals and pesticides.

The resulting debris also smoldered for several months, continuing to send fumes over a large area of the city and it is estimated that millions of New Yorkers and visitors may have been exposed to this toxic cloud in some form.

The most seriously affected, of course, were first responders and at least 64 firefighters have died of post-9/11 effects. Because most of these cancers can take years to develop and become symptomatic it is unclear how many other victims will be die in the future, officials said.

As Reuters News Service reported:

"While scientists knew from the start that responders were exposed to toxic chemicals, it was not obvious that they had caused cancer. For many cancers, the time between exposure to a carcinogen and the appearance of a malignancy can be 20 years or more. That has cast doubt on whether cancers detected in the years after the attacks were caused by exposure to the toxic chemicals.

"The health of first responders has also been intensely monitored, raising questions about whether an elevated rate of cancers reflected closer scrutiny, not a true increase. Also data on potentially cancer-causing agents in the air around the WTC wasn't collected until four days after the attacks."

Asbestos is particularly toxic, health officials say, because it causes asbestosis, lung cancer and, most frequently, mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer for which there is no cure.

Mesothelioma develops after victims inhale microscopic particles that lodge in the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs. There, over several decades, these fibers fight off the body's defense mechanisms and generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body. In most cases, mesothelioma is not detected until it is so far advanced it cannot be treated by traditional methods such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy and most victims are told they will have a life expectancy of less than 18 months after being diagnosed.

"This is monumental," John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation and a leading advocate for 9/11 cancer coverage told DNAinfo.com. "It's hard to celebrate today when so many people are sick and so many people have died from their illnesses, but this is a victory for the 9/11 community."

September 6, 2012

9/11 TOLL MAY CLIMB BECAUSE OF ASBESTOS FALLOUT

The threat to public health from asbestos has been pushed to the back burner as the mainstream media focuses on hot environmental topics such as global warming, world hunger, AIDS and food shortages. However, several news outlets that categorize themselves as models of new citizen journalism are refocusing on the specter of asbestos exposure.

Their focal point comes from the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 Al Qaeda terrorist attacks in which two commercial jetliners were hijacked and smashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. A posting on the URBAN TIMES, which was taken from a similar site, GLOBAL ETHIX, provides detailed figures about the staggering amount of toxic debris that was released when the Twin Towers collapsed and how government health officials downplayed the dangers of the asbestos and other materials that were spread in the atmosphere.

The information conveyed in these articles and the awareness of the constant danger of asbestos has been enlightening to many readers. Here is a part of what these sites reported (with some spellings unique to the United Kingdom):

Upon collapse of the Twin Towers, it is estimated that 400 metric tonnes of asbestos dust mixed with other toxic compounds formed by the burning jet fuel in the burning towers released in the air in Lower Manhattan. The toxic cocktail of dust was inhaled by thousands of people fleeing from their offices in the area and city emergency services and rescue staff. In addition to that dust penetrated homes and offices in the surrounding neighbourhood; most people did not take the necessary precautions such as using safety masks when being exposed to the dust either fleeing from the collapsing towers or during the clean-up both on the streets and within homes and offices.

Although there was an official record of 400 tonnes of Asbestos used in the construction of just the Twin Towers at the World Trade, there are suggestions that there was were still 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of asbestos still remaining within the fireproofing, paneling and insulation in the construction of the World Trade Centre and the surrounding buildings that collapsed releasing the toxic cocktail of dust.

The main buildings that collapsed in 9/11 were 1 & 2 World Trade Centre the 110-floor Twin Towers, which both collapsed on 4 World Trade Centre, 7 World Trade Centre and the Marriott World Trade Centre Hotel. Once all buildings collapsed it is estimated that over 110,000 people were exposed to the thick dust which spread throughout the Lower Manhattan area. Of course the first people to be exposed to the dust were the 4,000 emergency services workers, police, firemen, medical services as well as city officials, in addition over 80,000 people working in the towers and immediate area along with curious bystanders fleeing the area. Then there is an estimated 30,000 residents who were exposed to the toxic dust which had even penetrated apartments through open windows and air conditioning systems.

It has recently been reported that ultimately over 600,000 people in the Lower Manhattan area on 9/11 and after during the clean-up could have been affected by the carcinogenic dust, showing symptoms of Mesothelioma and other Asbestos related health problems up to 30-years after the event.

After the dust from 9/11 had settled, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the cloud of dust covering Lower Manhattan consisted of assumedly harmless "ground-up construction materials"; naturally this is a vague statement. As a result thousands of residents and workers returned to the Lower Manhattan area after 9/11 assuming there was no threat to health. However, studies conducted after 9/11 studies showed that the air around Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan contained increased asbestos levels after 9/11, which put thousands of residents and workers at risk to exposure to Asbestos and subsequently fatal diseases, such as Mesothelioma, Asbestosis and Lung Cancer, as well as debilitating respiratory problems.

From this report can be taken the fact that the full list of fatalities from the 9/11 attacks will not be known for several decades. Mesothelioma, for instance, the most common asbestos-caused disease, is a cancer that has a latency period of several decades.

Here's how it develops: A person is exposed to asbestos fibers floating in the air and unknowingly inhales some of these microscopic particles, which work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs. Then, after fighting off the body's natural defenses, these particles generate cancer cells which form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body.

This process takes so long that by the time the cancer becomes symptomatic, most victims are in their 60s and the cancer is so far advanced that traditional forms of treatment such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are of little help. Most victims are told after being diagnosed that they will have less than 18 months of life expectancy.

Currently, national health officials estimate that there are about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year in the United States. Most of these cases involve former military personnel, shipyard workers, construction workers, auto mechanics, tillers, roofers, electricians and other occupations in which there was frequent exposure to asbestos.

The huge number of rescue workers and residents of New York City who were exposed during the terrorist attacks has health officials concerned that the number of cases of mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer could soar in future decades.

August 31, 2012

PROSECUTORS SEEK STRONG SENTENCES FOR TENNESSEE ASBESTOS LAW VIOLATORS

Federal prosecutors continue to step up their enforcement of laws protecting workers and the public from the dangers of asbestos exposure. The most recent example is playing out in Tennessee, where three men are facing lengthy prison sentences for their role in an asbestos removal scam that officials said posed serious health risks.

The three men were convicted by a jury on multiple asbestos environmental charges and obstruction of justice in connection with the demolition of a Ridgedale plant that has become an environmental nightmare because, officials said, asbestos particles were released into the air of populated areas.

In addition, according to the allegations, the men hired day laborers, homeless people and drug addicts to handle asbestos and dispose of it. Such projects require trained personnel who use special equipment and clothing to protect themselves, according to environmental regulations.

Prosecutors asked the judge in the case "to send a clear message that our nation's laws that were intended to protect human health and worker safety cannot be knowingly sacrificed for personal avarice," according to a sentencing memorandum filed in the case.

According to The Chattanoogan.com web site, Prosecutors Todd Gleason of Washington, D.C., and Matthew Morris of Knoxville are asking Federal Judge Curtis Collier to give a six-level enhancement to the prison terms for Don Fillers, David Wood and James Mathis. The web site said the three defendants face up to five years on asbestos charges and Fillers up to 20 years for obstruction of justice. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 20.

In their court papers prosecutors said asbestos is an extremely dangerous and deadly substance and it is "highly likely" that within five to 30 years that those involved in the demolition as well as some of those in the nearby community will experience negative health effects.

Asbestos is a toxic material that causes several deadly cancers, including malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. The most common is mesothelioma, which develops after invisible asbestos particles are inhaled and work their way into the linings of a victim's lungs, heart or lungs.

Over a period of several decades these particles generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body. There is no cure for mesothelioma and most victims are given less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed.

Don Fillers and his brother, Gary Fillers, formed Watkins Street Properties in July 2003 to acquire the old plant, demolish it and salvage the items, and resell the cleared property, according to the court filing.

Prosecutors said in their filing that Don Fillers was given an estimate of $214,650 to properly dispose of the large amount of asbestos at the plant. They said SCI Remediation gave a bid of $129,250, but Fillers rejected that and got a bid for $28,900.

Wood was hired as site manager because he had formerly worked at the plant and was familiar with it and the Mathis firm was hired for the demolition, according to the filing.

The Chattanoogan reported that much of the asbestos was not property removed, and that Wood and a female were seen picking up asbestos material by hand and putting it in garbage bags and that Mathis hired day laborers, drug addicts and street people who were totally untrained in asbestos handling to do much of the work.

The web site report said that:

"The way the demolition was handled it sent asbestos into the air in a large portion of the old plant and into the neighborhood. It says John Schultz, an inspector with the Chattanooga Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau, happened upon the site while on a foot patrol on Sept. 8, 2005. He said it 'looked like a bomb had gone off with debris (containing asbestos) strewn across the site.' A team of inspectors from multiple agencies came to the site and began a cleanup."

In their court papers prosecutors said asbestos is an extremely dangerous and deadly substance and it is "highly likely" that within five to 30 years that those involved in the demolition as well as some of those in the nearby community will experience negative health effects.

August 30, 2012

THE DEBATE CONTINUES OVER JUSTICE FOR MONTANA ASBESTOS VICTIMS

One of the nation's worst environmental disasters occurred in a small Montana town near the Canadian border where the main industry was once a vermiculite plant that exposed most everyone nearby to asbestos, a toxic material that has since been identified as the cause of death for over 400 people there.

Many more than that in Libby have been sickened and may be added to the death list as they suffer from asbestos-caused illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. The source of the asbestos, the W.R. Grace and Co. mine and plant, has been shut down for more than 20 years but the community is still struggling from the aftereffects.

The government has poured more than $440 million into a cleanup that has generated mixed results with fears that the effort may have worsened the contamination, according to numerous local residents and officials. The dedication of a recent park, for instance, still has perils because there is still dangerous material underneath which could pose health hazards if disturbed.

It is no wonder, then, that emotions still run high as victims seek compensation for the health problems they have suffered and the loved ones they have lost. Some have turned to political activism, as demonstrated by a blogger's post on the Ravalli Republic newspaper web site:

On June 8, HR4369, a bill designed to burden and delay payment to asbestos victims, was approved by committee and sent to the House floor. Three times I have written to the offices of Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., asking if he would help to defeat this outrage. He has not responded.

The American Association for Justice says this bill would require the release of "extensive individual information about asbestos victims and would slow down asbestos cases, (and allow) the asbestos industry to delay and deny accountability so victims die before they are able to receive justice." Montanans with Libby asbestos disease already face delayed and paltry recoveries from W.R. Grace for that corporation's egregious poisoning of the Libby community. W.R. Grace has received its bankruptcy bailout at the expense of victims. Must these sick and dying Montanans face further delays? They can't seem to look to Rep. Rehberg for any help. He seems more concerned with lobbied laws to help such corporations make money at the expense of human lives. Consider, for example, the ongoing effort to block funding for "Lowering Miners' Exposure to Coal Mine Dust ... being developed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration."

Fortunately, the folks in Libby are represented in Congress by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. Tester's office immediately responded to the same letter. Tester has always helped the Libby victims when asked. He can be counted on to fight for prompt payment to the residents of Libby.

Many victims of asbestos-caused diseases have filed lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors and employers who they claim were negligent in exposing them to asbestos.

The percentage of residents who have developed asbestos-caused diseases in Libby is far higher than the national average, which is about 2,000 to 3,000 cases each year.

In the case of mesothelioma, the most common cancer associated with asbestos, the disease develops decades after victims inhale microscopic asbestos fibers which invade the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and generate cancer cells.

In most cases but the time the cancer is diagnosed it is so far advanced that it cannot be effectively treated by chemotherapy, radiation or surgery and most victims are told they will have a life expectancy of less than 18 months.

August 28, 2012

HEARTBREAKING STORY ABOUT DO-IT-YOURSELF DOCTOR DEMONSTRATES DANGERS OF ASBESTOS IN HOME PROJECTS

Many among us fancy ourselves home improvement experts with a gung-ho, do-it-yourself attitude. We want to save money and show that we have the skills to fix plumbing, repair roofs and lay tile, among several common examples. But there can be hidden dangers when we attempt to take such projects on without proper precautions.

The London Daily Mail just recently provided a poignant example of a beloved doctor whose handyman skills led to a risky exposure to asbestos which eventually led to his death from malignant mesothelioma, one of the most deadly asbestos-caused diseases. As the newspaper warns, millions of people are at risk of developing a deadly disease because of hidden asbestos in homes.

The case of Dr. Geoffrey Newton, a silver-haired orthopedic surgeon who died at 81, is the most recent example of the dangers of asbestos, which health officials say are unknowingly faced by thousands of homeowners every day as they take on home renovations that could disturb asbestos and put them at deadly risk.

The danger has become so commonplace that the newspaper said the British Lung Foundation has launched a campaign, "Take 5 to Stay Alive," in which it is attempting to communicate these dangers to the public and recommends that all such do-it-yourselfers take five minutes to consider whether asbestos could be an issue before embarking on any work. As the Daily Mail reported:

"Christine Winter, of the Independent Asbestos Training Providers, which champions safety and awareness when working with asbestos, adds: 'I am amazed at how many people have absolutely no knowledge of the danger they place themselves in when they start renovations.'

And, cautions the BLF, don't assume trades-people know about asbestos and the risks. If you are the homeowner, you have a responsibility to protect them from exposure to fibres.

Asbestos is a toxic material that has been utilized by man since ancient times because of its fire-retardant and heat-resistant qualities and until several decades ago was an integral part of the insulation of many homes, as well as being used in roofing, tiling and carpeting.

However, when asbestos is disturbed, damaged or destroyed microscopic particles are loosened into the atmosphere and if inhaled work their way into the linings of a victims' lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over several decades, generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

In Great Britain, the newspaper reports, the number of people dying each year from mesothelioma has nearly quadrupled in the past 30 years to about 3,000 annually. The Department of Health estimates deaths will peak in 2016 because the danger of asbestos became widely known only in the mid-Seventies, and the time lag between exposure and diagnosis is, typically, 30 to 40 years, according to the newspaper report.

The statistics in the United States are similar, with about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of malignant mesothelioma being diagnosed each year. Because the latency period of the cancer is so long by the time most victims are diagnosed they are into their 60s or older and are given life expectancies of less than 18 months.

That was the situation with Dr. Newton, according to the newspaper:

Even aged 81, he was fitting a new kitchen and bathroom in his home.

'Over the years he'd done everything from building a boat to converting an old school house into our home,' says his wife Pat, 82, a former GP.

'He was brilliant at DIY (do-it-yourself). Nothing was ever too much of a challenge.'

Unfortunately, it was this passion that most likely led to Mr. Newton's death in May.

He was suffering from mesothelioma — cancer of the lining of the lungs — caused by exposure to asbestos.

Experts say that even a few hours' exposure to the toxic fibres can be enough to trigger the condition later in life.

And a few hours was all it had taken for Mr. Newton, a leading orthopedic surgeon, to remove an old central heating boiler packed with white asbestos from his house in Burton-on-Trent.

'It was 37 years ago, but I still remember all the white dust that came out with it,' says Pat.

'At the time, it was known that brown and blue asbestos (there are three types) were dangerous, but not white, so we assumed the dust was harmless.

'But it's the only occasion we can think of that Geoffrey was exposed to it, so that must have been the trigger.'

The newspaper quoted Dr. John Moore-Gillon, an honorary medical adviser to the British Lung Foundation, about this danger:

"Many people think that because asbestos stopped being used in industry many years ago, it's no longer an issue," he says. "The problem today is that people can disturb asbestos in their homes without realising it is there.

"They embark on DIY projects — or hire a few local lads to do some demolition work without an initial survey — and unwittingly expose everyone to it. Cases will continue to rise if precautions aren't taken.

"What is worrying is that we barely have the resources to treat the condition, so if numbers continue to rise then there could be a huge strain in terms of treating everyone."

The paper said the BLF warns that asbestos was widely used in commercial buildings and homes until 1999, when it was banned, so any home built or refurbished before this date could contain asbestos.

The paper also provided some informative warnings and facts about asbestos exposure:

  • If you smoke, you increase your risk of developing an asbestos-caused cancer by up to 75 times.
  • Certain occupations, such as construction workers, tile setters, roofers, military veterans and auto mechanics are at much higher risk of developing the cancer than other workers.
  • Typical mesothelioma symptoms include difficulty in breathing, chest pains and a persistent cough.
  • There is no cure for mesothelioma but early diagnosis can help extend life expectancies.

In the case of Dr. Newton, he died 18 months after being diagnosed with the cancer. "It was all very quick," his widow, Pat, told the newspaper. "He developed breathlessness, which turned out to be pleural effusion — a build-up of fluid in the lungs. From there mesothelioma was diagnosed.

"He started off saying he wanted to book a train to Switzerland (to the Dignitas clinic), but then calmed down and did very well for 18 months after his diagnosis. He even insisted on fitting the kitchen and bathroom before he died. Even though he was frail, he got our daughter Sarah, who's 37, to help with the heavy lifting.

"It was all incredibly bad luck. We have friends who worked as ships engineers and were heavily exposed to it, but they are fine."

August 27, 2012

MESOTHELIOMA CLAIMS ANOTHER FAMOUS VICTIM

There is a long list of famous people who are among the many victims of malignant mesothelioma and Washington prison officials have confirmed that another celebrity – this one who achieved fame through infamy -- has succumbed to the asbestos-caused cancer. James Fogle, who wrote the autobiographical crime book "Drugstore Cowboy," is dead at the age of 75.

A prisons spokeswoman said that Fogle died Aug. 23, 2012 in the infirmary ward of a Monroe, Wash. prison, where he was serving a 15-year sentenced for the latest in a long string of crimes, in this case the 2010 robbery of a Seattle-area pharmacy.

According to court documents, Fogle and an accomplice where captured during the robbery of a Redmond, Wash. drug store in which they had tied up pharmacy workers and stolen drugs.

Fogle's book attracted widespread notoriety and was made into a critically acclaimed movie that was released in 1989 and starred Matt Dillon, among other actors and actresses. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the cause of death, according to media reports.

The Seattle Times reported that Fogle had already spent half of his life in prison when he wrote the book, which the newspaper said "was based on his experienced in a band of addicts who roamed the Pacific Northwest robbing pharmacies to feed their addictions. Filmmaker Gus Van Sant turned the novel into the acclaimed 1989 film."

Fogle's death is the latest of a well-known person to die of the effects of exposure to asbestos, a toxic material. About 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States and most victims are told they will have less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed.

Where and when Fogle was exposed to asbestos was not announced but in most cases victims are exposed in a work setting and inhale microscopic particles of the material which work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs. Over several decades these fibers generate cancer cells which form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body.

Earlier this year singer Donna Summer, the former Queen of Disco, died in her Florida home of lung cancer that friends said that she feared she developed after being exposed to toxic dust during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. Summer was 63.

Summer was staying in her New York apartment at the time and in 2008 spoke of her fears in an interview in which she said: "I was really freaked out by the horrific experiences of that day. I couldn't go out; I didn't want to talk to anybody. I had to keep the blinds down and stay in my bedroom. I went to church and light came back into my soul. That heaviness was gone."

Still, friends said, she repeatedly expressed her fears about how the airborne debris to which she was exposed affected her health.

Among other famous recent mesothelioma victims:

  • Actor Steve McQueen, who died in 1980, one year after he was diagnosed with the cancer that he attributed to his service as a Marine and race car driver. McQueen's screen persona as a loner and rebel was epitomized in such movies as "The Magnificent Seven," "The Great Escape" and "The Sand Pebbles." McQueen's widow, Barbara, has been a vocal advocate for mesothelioma victims and recently appeared before Congress. "I want to bring awareness that asbestos is still legal in the U.S. and continues to kill," she said in a recent address before the U.S. House of Representatives. "It can kill a movie star, a musician or a construction worker. It takes no prisoners."
  • NFL Hall of Fame lineman Merlin Olsen, who also achieved fame as a sports broadcaster and actor, died March 11, 2011 of pleural mesothelioma, almost two years after he was diagnosed. Olsen had sued television studios, a paint manufacturer and others, claiming they were responsible for his exposure to asbestos.
  • Hollywood actor Paul Gleason, whose 40-year career included roles in such movies as "The Breakfast Club" and "Trading Places." Gleason was 67 when he died of pleural mesothelioma and the cause of his asbestos exposure was not determined.
  • Singer Warren Zevon, who achieved popularity with off-beat hits such as "Werewolves of London", died in 2003 of pleural mesothelioma. The cause of his exposure also was not determined.
  • Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., former chief of Naval Operations and a towering figure in Washington military and political circles died of causes of pleural mesothelioma at the age of 78. Zumwalt was exposed to asbestos many times during his military career and battled to protect other military personnel from the toxic material during his career.

August 23, 2012

BURGLAR EXPOSES HIMSELF, OTHERS TO ASBESTOS DANGERS

A burglar who broke into a Syracuse, N.Y. building that is being renovated and stole a bunch of tools, among other things, could face a far more serious danger than being incarcerated if caught. The building was undergoing asbestos removal and the burglar's actions put him and others in serious danger of exposure to the toxic material.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to several deadly diseases, most commonly malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that develops after microscopic asbestos particles are inhaled. These particles work their way into the linings of a victim's lungs, heart or abdominal organs and generate cancer cells which form deadly tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

Workers who were removing the asbestos at the building on 615 James St. called police to report that the burglar had stolen a Bosch electric jackhammer, a Stihl gas-powered saw, two DeWalt reciprocating saws, ladders and scrap wire and copper, according to information provided to police investigators.

Syracuse.com, the web site of the Syracuse Post-Standard reported that in doing so the burglar broke in by smashing a three-by-three-foot hole through a brick wall in the building, which is secured on the first floor by plywood on the doors and windows and had signs posted both inside and outside the building warning that asbestos removal was taking place inside.

According to the Syracuse.com posting:

"Inside the building, there are safe areas and containment areas, said Bill McHale, foreman for Conifer-LeChase Construction, which is doing the asbestos removal. The burglar entered into the containment areas after breaking into the house, McHale told police. The containment areas have active asbestos in them and are extremely dangerous, McHale told police."

Health officials say that exposure to active asbestos can have fatal consequences in such a situation. If asbestos became airborne and spread outside the home it could also endanger nearby residents, businesses and passersby, they said.

Asbestos was for many years an integral part of construction works in the United States and was utilized in a variety of applications because of its versatility and fire-retardant qualities, primarily in insulation.

However, the recognition of the dangers of asbestos exposure finally forced the passage of strict laws and regulations in the 1970s governing the use, handling and disposal of the toxic material. Because its use was so widespread it is quite common for renovations, such as the one at the Syracuse home, to expose the material anew and strict precautions are required.

Among these are specially trained workers who have specialized equipment and follow environmental guidelines to ensure their safety and that of the public by preventing the asbestos particles from becoming airborne.

Whether the burglar will develop mesothelioma will not be known for several decades, because there is such a long time between the time a victim is exposed to asbestos and the time the cancer develops and becomes symptomatic. About 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year and most victims are given less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed.

There were several comments posted in reply to the article, several of them either attempting to be humorous about the situation or attempting to downplay the dangers of asbestos. More serious posters, however, were more informed. Here are a couple of their postings:

"I beg to differ with you. While years of exposure will increase your odds of contracting meso, even a short exposure in an atmosphere with a high concentration of fibers can cause it. It may take years for the symptoms to appear. If you have respiratory issues (smoker, emphysema, etc.) your risk of contracting meso increases."

And:

"I don't know if that is true. My father was exposed to asbestos when he was cutting asbestos filled concrete in a tunnel. He said that was his only exposure and he died of mesothelioma. One of my engineer friends tells me that is has to do with the type of asbestos. I asked because I was exposed to white asbestos daily for 12 years. My employer lied about it so we sent the white dust out to two independent labs and it came back positive. My co-worker died of mesothelioma but my engineer friend said he probably got it from his WWII days at Lockheed when they hosed it into planes."

August 21, 2012

ASBESTOS FROM TILES CLOSES MAJOR SEASHORE ATTRACTION IN GULF OF MEXICO

National parks officials have confirmed that large portions of a major island in one of the largest seashore attractions in the country has been indefinitely closed because of health dangers attributed to broken tiles containing asbestos.

The tiles were found scattered on Horn Island, one of the key attractions in the Gulf Islands National Seashore off the coasts of Mississippi and Florida, a park that draws millions of visitors each year. Park officials describe the islands as rich in natural resources and featuring sparkling blue waters, magnificent snowy-white beaches, fertile coastal marshes, and beautiful winding nature trails.

Authorities said they have indefinitely closed about 30 acres on Horn Island for a cleanup, saying broken tiles containing asbestos had been found at a part of the island once used as a biological testing site for the U.S. Army.

Dan Brown, superintendent of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, said at an Aug. 20 news conference that workers conducting an inspection on Horn Island in June in the wake of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill found asbestos tiles scattered around about one acre. He says a test also came back positive for mustard gas in one area of the site, which is about 15 miles due south of Pascagoula, Miss.

Park officials posted the following description of the dangers of asbestos on the attraction's web site:

"Asbestos is the name given to six naturally occurring fibrous minerals with high tensile strength, the ability to be woven, and resistance to heat and most chemicals. Because of these properties, asbestos fibers have been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, including roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper and cement products, textiles, coatings, and friction products such as automobile clutch, brake and transmission parts. The forms of asbestos are chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite and the variety of asbestos found on Horn Island is chrysotile.

Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease. That risk is made worse by smoking. In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects. Disease symptoms may take several years to develop following exposure. Three major health effects of asbestos exposure are asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma."

Mesothelioma is the most common disease attributed to asbestos exposure and is overwhelmingly caused by the inhalation of microscopic particles of the toxic material that become airborne, either through destruction, damage or decay of the material. These fibers then lodge in the linings of a victim's lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over several decades, generate cancer cells.

"We received confirmation Thursday that there are asbestos materials on the ground on the northwestern shore of the island in an area that contains the remains of a military facility that was active in the 1940s," Brown said. "A preliminary test also indicated the possible presence of a chemical agent known commonly as mustard gas. We are still awaiting confirmation of that."

"Our highest priority right now is the safety of the public and our employees," Brown said."We are therefore using an abundance of caution with the closure of the area surrounding the site. Park rangers are placing area closure signage around the perimeter around the site, about 1,000 feet in all directions."

"Additionally, based on an initial records search that was done, we have reason to believe that some containers of mustard gas may have been deposited in the island's Big Lagoon. We are therefore closing the portion of the lagoon that we own and we are notifying the owners of those nearby privately-owned tracts of the potential hazard."

Gulf Islands National Seashore describes itself as a park rich in natural resources. There are sparkling blue waters, magnificent snowy-white beaches, fertile coastal marshes, and beautiful winding nature trails.

More than 80 percent of the park is submerged lands teeming with marine life. Marshes collect fresh rainwater and support diverse communities of plants and animals. Live oak forests are home to resident and migrating bird populations.

In June British Petroleum asked the National Park Service (NPS) to provide a list of potential chemical and biological hazards on Horn Island before the company deployed their cleanup crews team as part of the Deepwater Horizon response. The NPS contracted with the environmental services firm Barksdale & Associates to conduct a preliminary site assessment and inspection, including tests for multiple contaminants.

This led to the discovery of the contaminants. The list of other potential contaminants came from an initial review of the site's historical records and includes: botulinum toxin, ricin, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), pesticides, polychlorina ted biphenyls (PCB), dioxins and furans, as well as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) metals (silver, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, and selenium).

August 16, 2012

ABESTOS FOUND IN CHINESE CARS, THREATENS THEIR ABILITY TO COMPETE IN UNITED STATES AND OTHER MARKETS

In what experts say is a significant setback in China's attempt to become an international player in the car industry, 23,000 automobiles exported to Australia have been recalled because they have parts containing asbestos.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is monitoring a recall of approximately 23,000 Great Wall and Chery motor vehicles with engine and exhaust gaskets containing asbestos. The Chery J1 model and newly imported stock of both brands are unaffected by the recall.

The asbestos is bound into gaskets in the engine and exhaust system and does not present any risk to consumers during use of the vehicle. However, consumers should not perform do-it-yourself maintenance that might disturb these gaskets.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said, "Asbestos is a prohibited hazardous substance and these engines and exhaust systems should only be worked on by qualified personnel using appropriate safety procedures."

Asbestos is a toxic material that is strictly regulated in Australia, the United States and many other countries and is banned in 55 countries because it is carcinogenic. Asbestos is the overwhelming cause of a cancer called malignant mesothelioma.

When asbestos is disturbed, decayed or destroyed microscopic particles are freed and become airborne. If they are inhaled, the fibers lodge themselves in the linings of a victim's lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over several decades, generate cancer cells. Most victims are given less than 18 months life expectancy after being diagnosed.

The number of cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States each year is about 2,000 to 3,000 and a disproportionate amount of victims are auto mechanics who were exposed to asbestos that was used in brake linings in the United States until it was banned. However, some imported brake units still contain asbestos, according to health officials.

Bloomberg News reported that the recall by China's two largest auto exporters may threaten plans by Chinese automakers to expand into the U.S. and Europe amid intensifying competition at home.

"Australia was to be the 'testing area' for Chinese carmakers looking to enter larger markets and the recall has dealt a blow to those ambitions, according to Dunne & Co. "It's a significant setback for the individual companies and development of the industry," said Michael Dunne, head of industry researcher Dunne & Co., in a telephone interview yesterday. "Chinese car companies will continue to push overseas, but you can bet that other countries that they are moving into, or are exporting to, are going to take a closer look on what's on offer."

Bloomberg said: "The use of asbestos in exports raises concerns about the quality and safety of products made in China, which has struggled with repeated health scares that include excessive lead found in toys, melamine-tainted milk and pet food killing children and dogs. Vehicle exports from the country may rise about 50 percent this year, extending record shipments in 2011, according to the official trade chamber."

The news agency said "Great Wall led shares of Chinese automakers lower in Hong Kong yesterday as the discovery of asbestos -- banned in 55 nations because of the fiber's links to cancer and respiratory illnesses -- undermines the nation's carmakers in their push to build their brands in overseas markets."

Australian officials said that they have:

  • Instructed all Chery and Great Wall dealers to 'stop sale' of affected vehicles.
  • Recalled gaskets that were distributed as spare parts.
  • Ensured all newly supplied cars and replacement gaskets are asbestos-free.
  • Arranged to directly advise car owners that gaskets should be replaced by authorized mechanics when replacement is required.
  • Arranged for warning stickers to be placed in the engine bay of affected cars.
  • Ensured that warnings and instructions for the safe handling and disposal of gaskets are provided with all spare parts that include an affected gasket.
  • Prepared a safety training video and other materials for automotive repairers.

"The automotive service industry is experienced in managing this risk, as cars sold in Australia before 2004 often had gaskets that contained asbestos," Ms Rickard said. "However, consumers and automotive repairers must be made aware that the risk may be present in these much newer vehicles. This is the focus of the recall campaign."

"All affected consumers will be contacted directly by Great Wall and Chery. In addition, they will provide training, warning stickers and safety advice to repairers. The ACCC will monitor the recall and Workplace Health and Safety Authorities will monitor the workplace safety issues," Ms Rickard said.

Customs and Border Protection officers detected asbestos in imported spare parts, triggering a safety investigation also involving the WorkCover Authority of NSW, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, the ACCC and the supplier of the cars, Ateco Automotive Pty Ltd.

The importation or use of asbestos has been prohibited in Australia since 2004. Consumers with other older vehicles are therefore also advised to take precautions when performing do-it-yourself maintenance that might disturb gaskets.

Bloomberg said "Great Wall plans to double its number of overseas assembly plants to 24 by 2015 and raise total manufacturing capacity to 500,000 units a year, it said in April. The company plans to export 100,000 vehicles this year, or 18 percent of its expected total deliveries, Chairman Wei Jianjun said in March. Chery sold a record 160,200 units overseas last year, a 73 percent increase from 2010. In the first six months of this year, the company exported 94,494 units, on track to meet its full-year target of 170,000 units, according to a statement on its web site."

The news agency said the automaker currently sells to more than 80 countries and regions and has 16 manufacturing bases abroad. Chery invested $400 million in a plant in Brazil, which starts operating in late 2013 with an annual production capacity of 150,000 units.

August 9, 2012

WIDOW OF MESOTHELIOMA VICTIM WINS SETTLEMENT, URGES OTHER VICTIMS TO SEEK FINANCIAL RELIEF

The widow of man who died of mesothelioma caused by his exposure to asbestos at an Australian Toyota factory has won a settlement of more than $500,000, an award she hopes will convince more victims of asbestos exposure and their loved ones to seek compensation for the deadly cancer.

The comments were made by Lisa Mugg, widow of Farid Moghaddas, who died a year ago from mesothelioma, an extremely aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos in a work environment. Moghaddas contracted the disease after being exposed in the 1980s to decaying asbestos in the automaker's Port Melbourne plant, according to details in the case. Mugg had been seeking compensation and the award was recently announced by her mesothelioma lawyers.

Litigation involving asbestos is on the increase in Australia, where the number of deaths attributed to the cancer has been on the increase. In the United States there is a long history of asbestos lawsuits and billions of dollars have been paid out in settlements and jury awards to victims of asbestos exposure that occurred most frequently, as with Moghaddas, in a job-related situation.

Australia's controls over the toxic material are not as rigid as is the case in the United States, where the use, handling and disposal of asbestos has been strictly regulated since the 1970s and state and federal prosecutors have pursued criminal charges in numerous cases against workers, contractors and officials who have violated these laws.

Mugg's award was the most she could have obtained under the laws governing such cases in Australia and she described the settlement as bittersweet, according to a report in the Port Phillip Leader newspaper. "It has allowed me to survive financially while I'm dealing with my grief," she said.

The report quoted her as saying that her husband would have been happy with the settlement but that there are many other mesothelioma victims or loved ones who might be eligible for compensation but are ignorant of their legal options. "There is a lot of confusion around compensation and asbestos," she said.

"Someone can take down a tool shed in the back yard with a few mates over the weekend and there is this false belief that you need to be working with asbestos for a long time to get sick, but that's not the case." she said.

"It can be one inhalation, one exposure and that can be enough and that's what people need to know. Of course there are a lot of factors that have to come together but people need to be aware of those."

Mugg said she left her job in marketing in 2009 to care for her husband after he was diagnosed with the cancer and described him as a patient and tolerant man whose name meant "unique" in Persian, according the report. "He had a wonderful fighting spirit. But in the end it was heartbreaking to see him withdraw from the things he liked to do," the newspaper quoted her as saying.

Mugg, like many mesothelioma victims and relatives who have won settlements , urged the media and health officials to make workers and the public more aware of the dangers of asbestos, which causes mesothelioma when microscopic particles are inhaled and then lodge themselves in the lining of victims' lungs, hearts or abdominal organs and generate cancer cells.

Her lawyers issued a press release in which they said her life was forever changed in 2007 when her husband, then 49, went to a doctor complaining about rib pains and was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The lawyers said decaying asbestos sheets at the factory, where he worked in cost analysis between 1988 and 1991 were the source of his exposure to asbestos.

National health statistics in the United States show that about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. Because the cancer has such a long latency period between the time of exposure and the diagnosis, in most cases, the majority of victims are given less than 18 months of life expectancy after being diagnosed.

June 28, 2012

JURY AWARDS $2.1 MILLION IN ASBESTO CASE INVOLVING EXPOSURE TO BRAKE LININGS

In the latest of several recent jury verdicts against defendants in asbestos cases, a jury has awarded a California man almost $2.1 million in damages to compensate him for the mesothelioma that he contracted from working on brake linings.

The verdict was returned after a three-week trial in a Sacramento Superior Court in which Pneumo Abex, a company that makes brake-shoe linings for automobile and trucks, was held partially responsible for his disease.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos, usually in a work environment. Typically, victims unknowingly inhale microscopic fibers which lodge themselves in the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over several decades, generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

National health statistics show that about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year and that most victims are given a life expectancy of less than 18 months after being diagnosed. Certain occupations, such as mechanics who work on brake linings, are at higher risk of asbestos exposure than other jobs.

The victim is a 66-year-old man who worked at a variety of plumbing and construction jobs as well as a mechanic repairing brake systems, according to court records. Defense lawyers argued to the jury that the victim may have been exposed to other asbestos situations that could have led to him developing the cancer.

The victim testified during the trial and said that he had worked on brake shoes manufactured by Pneumo Abex and other manufacturers since he was 10 years old and helped his father, who owned a truck, in conducting repairs. His testimony was supported by several medical experts, according to trial records.

Asbestos has long been identified as a toxic material and strict rules and regulations involving the handling, use and disposal of the material have been in effect in the United States since the 1970s.

It was long a common material used in construction work and in auto parts because of its fire-retardant and insulating properties and those who worked in the construction trades and as mechanics have been significantly at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases.

Because of this, asbestos lawsuits are very common in the court system and billions of dollars have been paid out to victims over the last several decades in settlements and jury verdicts.

June 26, 2012

MEDIA REPORTS SUGGEST GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS REVEAL HYPOCRISY BY CANADA OVER DANGERS OF ASBESTOS

The Canadian government has long been aware of the toxic dangers of the asbestos mined in the country for export to other nations but has consistently blocked international efforts to limit these exports, according to a review of official documents.

Several Canadian media outlets have reported the seemingly hypocritical stance of the government as an economic and ethical debate rages in the country over its asbestos mining industry, which is seeking government financial assistance to stay afloat.

A Postmedia News article printed in the Edmonton Journal and other media outlets reported that a memorandum to Environment Minister Peter Kent, obtained by Postmedia News under an access to information request, states the scientific panel for the UN's Rotterdam Convention was on solid ground in 2002 when it first proposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen mined in Quebec, as a hazardous material on Annex III of the convention.

There are several types of asbestos and almost all, including chrysotile, are listed by international health officials as toxic materials because exposure to asbestos can cause several deadly diseases, most commonly, malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer.

According to the article: Materials listed on Annex III require what is called "Prior Informed Consent " (PIC) — meaning that before countries export listed goods, they must inform importers of the risks and precautionary measures for safe handling, to which importers must consent. Because the convention operates by consensus, any one country can block a listing simply by objecting.

"Since 2002, chrysotile has been proposed four times for addition to the PIC Procedure of the Rotterdam Convention. This decision requires the consensus of the Parties. At previous meetings and again last June, Canada acknowledged that all criteria for the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the Convention have been met but opposed its addition," states the briefing note, dated last fall, according to the article.

The reporting about the government's continued opposition to having chrysotile asbestos listed on the Annex II in the face of scientific evidence documenting its toxicity is playing out as the asbestos mining industry -- mostly in Quebec -- is attempting to prop itself up through government-backed loans.

Business interests involved in the mines and a portion of Canada's work force employed in asbestos-related mining and exporting are citing the economic benefits of the operations. The Conservative government, according to the article has said repeatedly that its opposition to the Rotterdam listing, most recently articulated at the June 2011 convention meeting, is consistent with Canada's 30-year old policy of promoting the safe and controlled use of chrysotile.

Environmentalists and opponents complain that Canada is morally wrong in exporting health hazards to developing countries with far less restrictive health standards and concerns about the safety of their citizens.

The Postmedia article quoted New Democratic MP Pat Martin, a longtime critic of the asbestos industry and a former miner himself, said the briefing note blows open Canada's public positions on asbestos: "They've ignored the scientists. They didn't just deny the science. They acknowledged it but yet ignored it. That is unforgivable, in my view," Martin said Monday.

"They've put commercial and political interests ahead of scientific interests, and in doing, compromised and undermined the whole purpose and intent of the convention," he added, singling out the Conservative government's Quebec Lieutenant, Christian Paradis, who represents a riding at the heart of Quebec's asbestos mining region.

"Stephen Harper has almost no support in Quebec and one of his only seats is the biggest cheerleader for asbestos," said Martin in the article.

The article said the ministerial memo was prepared by Deputy Environment Minister Paul Boothe and Associate Deputy Environment Minister Andrea Lyon after Health Canada informed the department it was set to release a draft report on the risks posed to Canadian workers and the general population from exposure to chrysotile.

The Postmedia article said the report "states that chrysotile deposits are often contaminated with tremolite." And tremolite, "a more potent carcinogen than chrysotile for mesothelioma and it is possibly a more potent carcinogen for lung cancer," is one of five forms of asbestos listed on Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention, the memo states.

Previously released records from Health Canada show the department challenged the government's public stance on the Rotterdam listing and safe use, according to the article.

"HC's preferred position would be to list (the substance under the treaty) as this is consistent with controlled use — i.e. let people know about the substance so they have the information they need, (through) prior informed consent, to ensure they handle and use the substance correctly," the article quoted from an internal e-mail written by Paul Glover, an assistant deputy minister at Health Canada, dated Aug. 15, 2006.

 

June 22, 2012

MEMBER OF FAMOUS ROTHSCHILD BANKING FAMILY DIES OF MESOTHELIOMA FROM NAVY SERVICE EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS

Leopold De Rothschild, a member of the world famous Rothschild banking family, has died from malignant mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that was caused by his exposure to asbestos while serving in the English Royal Navy.

The 84-year-old Rothschild's death generated major headlines in the United Kingdom and across Europe where the Rothschild banking empire was a major player in international finance for many decades. He was the great-great-grandson of Nathan Mayer Rothschild who established the English branch of the family and the bank

Rothschild had been ill for several years after being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009. He had been suffering from the classic symptoms of the cancer, shortness of breath and chest pains.
Medical officials determined that Rothschild developed the mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos while on national service in the Royal Navy in the 1940s, which, officials said, was his only contact with the toxic material.

Health officials describe mesothelioma as the most common cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. In most cases victims unknowingly inhale microscopic asbestos fibers floating in the air --usually in a workplace environment -- and these fibers work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs.

There, over several decades -- nearly six in Rothschild's case -- these fibers generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body. Asbestos was a common component in shipbuilding, especially during World War II because of its fire-retardant and insulating properties.

Navy veterans in the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere form a disproportionate percentage of asbestos victims because they served in tight quarters in which asbestos particles were frequently dislodged by the wear and tear of sailing the oceans and combat damage. There is no cure for mesothelioma and because it has such a long latency period it is usually so far advanced by the time it is diagnosed that it is untreatable by traditional cancer approaches of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Most victims are told they will have less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed.

The London Daily Mail reported that the only time Rothschild had been exposed to the asbestos which causes the disease was when he came into contact with the lagging around ship boilers in the 1940s, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

"After a brief hearing, Deputy Coroner Dr. Shirley Radcliffe said the case was unusual given Mr. De Rothschild's background, but said she had seen some navy-related cases before," according to the news report.

She added: "It's not often you associate industrial disease with a premier tier banking family. He had certainly not had lengthy exposure to asbestos and yet has died of a disease that is invariably caused by asbestos. There is simply his national service in the Royal Navy and we have had cases before where national service in the navy has led to significant asbestos exposure leading on to malignant mesothelioma."

The Daily Mail presented these details of Rothschild's life in their obituary:

Rothschild was brought up at Exbury House, Hampshire, on the estate his father had acquired in late 1918, which is bounded by the New Forest, the Solent and the Beaulieu river. He was educated at Harrow and then Cambridge, before pursuing a successful financial career with NM Rothschild & Sons. He became a partner in 1956 and an executive director in 1970. Between 1970 and 1983, he sat as a director on the Court of the Bank of England.

Outside of work, encouraged by his mother, Rothschild developed a passion for classical music. He became a leading philanthropist in the field and in 1985, was made a CBE for services to music and the arts. He also sang bass with the Bach Choir in London for some 50 years and is thought to have performed more than 100 renditions of the St Matthew Passion. Eventually he served as chairman, and later president, of the choir and also helped raise funds for the new opera house at Glyndebourne as well as many other good causes.

Rothschild's other great passion was steam trains, and he served as a trustee of the National Museum of Science and Industry and as a member of the National Railway Museum Advisory Committee. He also had his own a narrow-gauge steam railway built at Exbury which the Queen visited in 2008.

She rode on the footplate while he drove the engine dressed in a boiler suit and cap. Rothschild was born in London on May 12, 1927 and never married. He died at his home on April 19 of this year. No family members attended the inquest, but Dr. Radcliffe said they would be informed of the verdict immediately.

 

June 12, 2012

WIFE OF MESOTHELIOMA VICTIM WINS KEY COURT RULING

Mesothelioma victims are not the only ones who may be affected by health issues stemming from this asbestos-caused cancer. They also may have legal rights in such cases, according to a recent court ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles, California.

Mesothelioma victims have for many decades been filing lawsuits against those responsible for the asbestos exposure that caused them to develop this aggressive cancer. Many of these victims have been able to win settlements and jury awards that have climbed into the billions of dollars from manufacturers and employers who have been found negligent in protecting the safety of workers and others through asbestos exposure.

Now, in a ruling handed down by appellate court justices, a woman who is married to a mesothelioma victim has won the opportunity to seek damages from an auto parts company she claims is responsible for her husband's condition. The woman now will be able to proceed with her loss of consortium claim in the case.

The legal definition of loss of consortium is a spouse's loss of the ability to maintain normal marital relations, including sexual intercourse. Typically, such claims are made in cases in which a spouse has suffered and injury or serious health problem that causes the couple the loss of such intimacy. As in the asbestos case, the spouse is then able to join in the lawsuit and can be awarded damages by a jury or if a settlement is reached in the case.

The Wall Street Journal posted details of the case on its Market Watch web site:

Frederick Kenney of Fort Jones, Calif., sued Tennessee-based auto parts manufacturer Hennessy Industries Inc. and other companies for negligence and products liability based on their use of asbestos products. Mr. Kenney was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2011 after being exposed to asbestos during his service in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s and 1960s, and when he later worked as a mechanic. His wife, Sherrell Vanhooser, filed a loss of consortium claim against the same defendants. Mesothelioma is a debilitating, deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

Initially, the woman's claim was rejected by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge who granted the defendant's summary judgment -- dismissing the claim before a trial could be held -- on the grounds that the couple did not marry until after Kenney had had been exposed to asbestos, which eventually caused the mesothelioma, according to the suit.

However, that ruling was overturned by the appellate justices, who found that "injury to the spouse in the latent disease context occurs when the illness or its symptoms are discovered or diagnosed, not at the time of the tortious act causing the harm," according to the ruling.

There are about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year in the United States and it is not unusual for victims of the disease to file lawsuits and huge amounts of money have been set aside by insurance companies and businesses to cover the costs of such litigation.

The cancer usually develops after a victim unknowingly inhales microscopic particles of asbestos, usually at a workplace environment. The toxic fibers work their way into the linings of a victim's lungs, heart or abdominal organs and fight off the body's defense mechanisms and generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

Mesothelioma has a particularly long latency period -- sometimes for as long as five decades -- and is usually so far advanced by the time it is diagnosed that most victims are told they will have less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed.

Kenney's case typifies the profile of many mesothelioma victims because he is a Navy veteran and worked as a mechanic. A disproportionate number of mesothelioma victims are Navy veterans because for many decades asbestos was a common component of all types of Navy vessels and shipbuilding. Mechanics also were at high risk of being exposed to asbestos through their work with parts containing asbestos.

May 10, 2012

RED WINE BENEFITS FOUND IN TREATING MESOTHELIOMA

Health benefits have long been attached to the consumption of red wine. In moderation, of course. Now, come finding from a Korean study that raise the possibility that red wine may have positive effects in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma, one of the most aggressive cancers.

The findings from studies at Soonchunhyant University were published in the recent edition of the International Journal of Molecular Medicine and describe the research that found that an antioxidant that is a component of red grape skins and called resveratrol was found to attack and kill some mesothelioma cells.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that in the overwhelming number of cases is caused by exposure to asbestos in the workplace. When microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled they invade the body and lodge themselves in the linings of victims' lungs, hearts or abdominal organs and form tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

The cancer has a very long latency period -- four to five decades is not unusual -- and by the time most victims are diagnosed the cancer is so far advanced that most victims are told they will have a life expectancy of less than 18 months.

National health statistics show that about 2,000 to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the cancer each year. The number of victims in Korea and other countries that have undergone intense industrialization in the last several decades.

The traditional cancer treatments of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation all can have negative or debilitating side effects. The Korean study, which was conducted on mice, showed that resveratrol acted as a suppressant on mesothelioma cells by interacting with a protein called Spl, or specificity protein 1.

Media reports said that while resveratrol's benefits have long been studied these findings are the first that have addressed the antioxidant's effect on mesothelioma.

"Our results strongly suggest that Sp1 is a novel molecular target of (resveratrol) in human malignant pleural mesothelioma," the researchers wrote. The findings should encourage testing of resveratrol in controlled human tests, they said.

Although the tests were encouraging government regulatory agencies require extensive clinical trials before any new treatments or drugs for the treatment of cancer are approved. Health officials also said that while the results were encouraging and the health benefits of red wine have long been publicized any person using alcohol to treat a health problem should first consult with their physician.

The National Cancer Institute in its web site posting about red wine described it as having positive anti-cancer benefits, particularly against skin, breast and prostate cancer. The posting said "red wine is a rich source of biologically active phytochemicals, chemicals found in plants. Particular compounds called polyphenols found in red wine -- such as catechins and resveratrol -- are thought to have antioxicant or anticancer properties."

Here are some of the details provided by the National Cancer Institute:

1. What are polyphenols and how do they prevent cancer?

Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds found in the skin and seeds of grapes. When wine is made from these grapes, the alcohol produced by the fermentation process dissolves the polyphenols contained in the skin and seeds. Red wine contains more polyphenols than white wine because the making of white wine requires the removal of the skins after the grapes are crushed. The phenols in red wine include catechin, gallic acid, and epicatechin.

Polyphenols have been found to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from oxidative damage caused by molecules called free radicals. These chemicals can damage important parts of cells, including proteins, membranes, and DNA. Cellular damage caused by free radicals has been implicated in the development of cancer. Research on the antioxidants found in red wine has shown that they may help inhibit the development of certain cancers.

2. What is resveratrol and how does it prevent cancer?

Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol called a phytoalexin, a class of compounds produced as part of a plant's defense system against disease. It is produced in the plant in response to an invading fungus, stress, injury, infection or ultraviolet irradiation. Red wine contains high levels of resveratrol, as do grapes, raspberries, peanuts, and other plants.

Resveratrol has been shown to reduce tumor incidence in animals by affecting one or more stages of cancer development. It has been shown to inhibit growth of many types of cancer cells in culture. Evidence also exists that it can reduce inflammation. It also reduces activation of NF kappa B, a protein produced by the body's immune system when it is under attack. This protein affects cancer cell growth and mestasis. Resveratrol is also an antioxidant.

May 01, 2012

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR SIGNS MESOTHELIOMA BILL
THAT WILL AFFECT VETERANS AND SHIPYARD WORKERS

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has just signed some important pieces of legislation addressing mesothelioma and other cancers at a bill-signing ceremony involving six pieces of legislation passed by the state’s general assembly in the areas of cancer research, treatment and education.

One of the bills McDonnell signed is legislation to designate every Sept. 26 as “Mesothelioma Awareness Day.” To victims of mesothelioma this is an important milestone given that Virginia is home to the two of the biggest shipyards and naval stations in the world: Newport News shipyard and the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

The history of shipyards and U.S. Naval personnel shows that workers at these shipyards and in the U.S. military, particularly the Navy, were among those at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma, an aggressive, deadly cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos.
National health statistics show that about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the country each year and a disproportionately high percentage involves shipyard workers and Navy personnel and veterans.

That the governor of this state and its legislators are recognizing the significance of this important health issue and the devastation that mesothelioma has inflicted over the years is being hailed by mesothelioma victims and their loved ones.

Mesothelioma develops after victims inhale tiny, invisible particles of asbestos, usually in a workplace such as a shipyard where asbestos use is common. These fibers work their way into the linings of the lungs, hearts and abdominal organs of the victims and over a period of several decades generate cancer cells.

Because this latency period is so long and many of the symptoms of mesothelioma mimic less serious respiratory ailments most victims are not diagnosed until they are in their 50s and 60s and the cancer is very much advanced.

Because of this most of the victims cannot be effectively treated through common cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiology and most are told they will have a life expectancy of less than 18 months after being diagnosed.

Asbestos has been prized since ancient times for its fire-retardant qualities and versatility and was an important part of the insulation and components of engine and boiler rooms in ships. Those who built these ships and those who served on them were at constant risk of being exposed to asbestos, be it through improper distribution and use of the toxic material or the wear and tear of shipyard life, which inevitably involved loosened asbestos fibers into the ship’s surroundings.

Although by the late 1970s the risks of asbestos caused the government and national health officials to impose strict bans, laws and regulations involving the use, handling and disposal of asbestos U.S. naval officials were found to be in violation of their own policies in regards to asbestos and continuing to use it in non-approved ways.

This changed in the 1980s and 1990s as media exposure of these dangers and a wave of asbestos lawsuits on behalf of victims who had contracted mesothelioma began flooding the courts across the country, a large number of which were filed by Navy personnel and veterans as well as shipyard workers.

Many of these victims have yet to be identified because of the long latency period of mesothelioma. Many victims may not even be aware now that they may have this cancer forming in their bodies. National health officials say they expect the number of mesothelioma diagnoses to continue at the current rate for at least the next decade.

In addition to the recognition of the dangers of mesothelioma, the other bills approved by Gov. McDonnell and Virginia legislators are bills to require health insurers to cover oral chemotherapy drugs just as they do intravenously administered chemotherapy drugs and legislations requiring that radiologists performing mammograms notify women if they have dense breast tissue, which is considered to be a risk factor for cancer.

Mesothelioma victims and their loved ones are hoping that other states that do not have similar mesothelioma awareness observances will follow in the footsteps of Virginia.

 

April 24, 2012

NEW YORK STUDENTS PUT AT RISK IN ASBESTOS REMOVAL

It’s not surprising that a major controversy has erupted in Brooklyn, N.Y., over an asbestos abatement project that was undertaken to remove the toxic material from a school. Parents are outraged, the media has taken note of the uproar and now school officials are in a tizzy. In the meantime, there are serious questions about whether the health of the children who attend Public School 29 John M. Harrigan has been compromised.

The project involved what administrators said was intended to be an after-school hours removal of asbestos that is necessary during an 18-month-long capital improvement project at the Cobble Hill site. Unfortunately, officials involved in the project failed to notify children, parents and teachers and when some people found out what was going on a predictably vocal response followed.

Asbestos is banned in New York and many other parts of the country and there are strict laws and regulations government the use, handling and removal of the material, which for many years was a common component in construction and other uses because of its versatility and fire-retardant qualities. Many older buildings and homes across the country have asbestos insulation, fireproofing and acoustic applications.

However, asbestos also has been proven to be the cause of the deadly cancer known as malignant mesothelioma, which is diagnosed in about 2,000 to 3,000 Americans each year and many times that number in other countries, according to health officials.

Mesothelioma develops after victims innocently inhale invisible particles of asbestos fibers that may be floating in the air. These particles then work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and generate cancer cells which form tumors and can spread to other parts of the body. Most victims are told they will have less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed because the cancer is so aggressive and untreatable by normal techniques such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiology.

There is a long latency period of several decades between exposure to asbestos and the development of the cancer and most victims are exposed as adults and diagnosed in their 50s or 60s. Exposing pre-kindergarten or elementary school children to the material would mean that they could develop the cancer in the prime of their lives, say health experts.

These factors were among the motivations for crowds of parents and others showing up at the school to protest the project. Some were wearing surgical masks and others were waving signs and placards in opposition to the plan and objecting to the health risks to almost 700 students, teachers and staff at the school.

The weather turned nasty on the day of the protest and the project was suspended, according to officials, because of the rain. Critics of the plan said they believe their objections carried more weight than the weather but the project has been delayed, nevertheless.

In the meantime, opponents of the project have mobilized and contacted the media and politicians, asking that the project be rescheduled to the summer months when the school is closed.

The New York Times posted an article on its web site about the controversy and the response:

Councilman Brad Lander, who represents the area, spoke at the rally about the city’s plan to issue a re-occupancy letter each day after abatement work is performed, indicating the building is safe for students and staff.

“Why should children have only a day’s notice to learn whether it is safe for them to attend school?” he asked. He said the abatement seemed to have come out of nowhere. “It feels like they were trying to slip it under the rug.” The crowd burst into a chant of, “Do it in the summer.”

Parents were also angry that they had not been given the requisite seven days’ notice about the removal, and questioned why signs stating that asbestos abatement would be taking place weren’t installed prominently around the school.

Students also spoke at the rally, including Cosmo Coen, 10, who lives across the street from the scaffold-encased school. His father, Bob Coen, said many of the children were already coughing and sneezing because of the dust from the ongoing project. “Even with all the scaffolding, the kids are going to school in Constructionville,” he said. “That’s the reality.”

“There is, unfortunately, a precedent of procedures not being followed, “ Mr. Coen said, pointing to a history of indictments and prosecutions, including a 2010 case in which an inspector submitted clean asbestos or lead test results for more than 200 buildings and apartments that he had never tested.

Some parents said they were considering keeping their children out of school, though this week many of the students will be taking the state math exams.

Julian Stysis, an organizer of Monday’s rally and the father of a fourth grader, said keeping his daughter out could affect her prospects for middle school, as fourth-grade testing scores are considered for entry at some schools.

Rhonda Keyser, who has a daughter in the second grade and sits on the parent committee that closely followed the construction work, said she was leaning toward keeping her child out of school. The School Construction Authority, she said, “may be doing everything completely above board. But the fact that they’ve not been forthcoming with their information is cause enough to question. They need to tell us.”

Mr. Coen said part of the frustration was that monitors like the Environmental Protection Agency did not have the jurisdiction to intervene until work actually began. By then, it could be too late, he said.

He said he met with School Construction Authority officials and asked for a delay but was told that postponing the work would set a “bad precedent.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Coen had also met, as part of a group, with staff from Mr. de Blasio’s office, who used to represent the area around P.S. 29 in the City Council. Mr. de Blasio was out of town but issued a statement calling upon the Education Department and health experts to meet with parents and explain the steps being taken to protect the children and staff’s health. “We can’t ever leave parents in the dark when it comes to a child’s safety,” the statement said.

The principal, Melanie Woods, said that the School Construction Authority routinely performed maintenance and upkeep like this during the school year, though she acknowledged that parents should be able to receive more information.

The Education Department said that it had followed procedures and that the Department of Environmental Protection “has agreed with our notification protocol.”

“We hold a meeting with the U.F.T. and the PTA and distribute letters to the surrounding community,” a spokesman said. “We met with the PTA at P.S. 29 several times. In addition, we post notices when we begin the work.”

Other capital improvement projects at schools that required asbestos abatement have previously been done during the school year after school hours, the official said, citing work done at the John Jay Educational Campus and at P.S. 146 in Brooklyn.

Many parents said that if the work was not halted until the summer, they planned to return on Friday, when the work is scheduled to begin again, to continue their fight.

Michael Nigro, who has a 10-year-old daughter at the school, said that the construction authority couldn’t guarantee the absolute safety of the children and teachers.

“I have many friends who worked on the pile down in ground zero, and they were told it was safe,” he said. “This is just another out-of-control cog in a very broken system. And we don’t have the currency to change the system.”

 

 

April 19, 2012

PROMINENT GOLFER FRED COUPLES ANNOUNCES
GENEROUS DONATION TO MESOTHELIOMA RESEARCH

A generous contribution to mesothelioma research has come from an unexpected source: the ranks of professional golfers. It was recently announced that Fred Couples, a 15-time Professional Golfers Association tour winner designated a $25,000 check from charitable proceeds generated from the Presidents Cup 2011 at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in which Couples served as captain of the victorious United States team for the second consecutive time.

The donation on behalf of the golfers was made to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation in memory of George Elo, who lost his life to mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an asbestos-caused cancer which claims thousands of lives each year.

The overwhelming number of cases involves circumstances in which a victim is exposed to asbestos and innocently inhales microscopic asbestos fibers, which eventually lodge themselves in the lungs, heart or abdominal organs. There, over several decades, cancer cells are generated which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body. There is no cure and most victims are given less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed.

The Presidents Cup is a unique golf event in that it offers no purse or prize money. Players are not personally paid for their participation; instead, each competitor, captain and captain’s assistant allocates their portion of the proceeds generated to chosen charitable causes.

The Meso Foundation is a leading organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma as a life-ending cancer by funding peer-reviewed mesothelioma research, with over $7.6 million awarded to date. The Meso Foundation also provides patients and families with personalized and up-to-date information on mesothelioma treatments, clinical trials and medical referrals.
A total of $4.5 million will be distributed to charitable causes around the world from The Presidents Cup 2011, a record-setting amount for this prestigious competition and part of the more than $27 million raised since the inception of the event in 1994.

The Presidents Cup is a biennial match-play competition between the United States Team and the International Team, which was first contested in 1994. The International Team includes the world’s best players from non-European countries.

The U.S. Team captured The Presidents Cup for the seventh time, led by Captain Fred Couples and a 5-0-0 performance by veteran Jim Furyk. Tiger Woods, one of Couples’ two captain’s picks, clinched the Cup for the United States with a 4-and-3 win over Australia’s Aaron Baddley in Sunday Singles.
The non-profit Meso Foundation describes itself as the national organization dedicated to finding a cure and eradicating mesothelioma as a life-ending disease by:
• Funding the highest quality and most promising mesothelioma research projects from around the world through our rigorous peer-reviewed process;
• Helping mesothelioma patients connect with national mesothelioma experts and obtain the most up-to-date information on treatment options;
• Advocating in Washington D.C. for federal mesothelioma research funding to stop this national tragedy.

 

 

March 28, 2012

UK SUPREME COURT ISSUES IMPORTANT RULING
FOR PAYOUTS TO ASBESTOS VICTIMS

The British Supreme Court has handed mesothelioma victims in the United Kingdom a huge legal victory that will clear the way for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to be paid to victims and their loved ones over asbestos-caused cancer.

In the culmination of a legal battle that has stretched over more than five years, the court ruled that insurance carriers should have to pay companies for the costs they have incurred in compensating workers who suffer from asbestos-related illnesses. The key factor of the ruling is that the liability for insurance carriers starts in the time frame when the victims were exposed to the toxic material and not when the symptoms occur or a diagnosis is made.

This is an important ruling because mesothelioma usually does not become symptomatic or diagnosed until several decades after a victim is exposed to the substance. The overwhelming number of mesothelioma victims are exposed to asbestos as part of their employment and inhale tiny, microscopic particles of the substance.

The fibers then penetrate linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and over a very long latency period -- sometimes as long as five decades -- generate cancer cells which form deadly tumors or spread to other parts of the body. Most victims are not diagnosed until the cancer is so far advanced that it cannot be effectively treated. Most victims live less than 18 months after being diagnosed.
Reuters News Service reported that the ruling on reinstates an established practice that had been thrown into doubt by an earlier court decision that compensation was in some cases covered by insurance held when symptoms emerge, often many years after initial exposure and that many claims had been put on hold pending clarification of the law.

Legal experts quoted by Reuters said that the ruling also will allow victims to sue insurers directly in cases in which the employers that they worked for when they were exposed to asbestos have gone out of business.

"The case was launched in 2007 by four insurers who hoped to limit their payouts by establishing that liability was triggered by the development of an asbestos-related illness, rather than exposure," according to Reuters. "One of the insurers, Municipal Mutual Insurance Limited, said: 'Whilst the ruling does not reflect MMI's favoured outcome, we welcome the clarity this judgement brings as it enables MMI to determine the extent of its liabilities and the available options for the future.'"

Estimates of how much money will be paid out to the victims ranges from several hundred million dollars to figures over a billion dollars.

"Asbestos, widely used as a building material during the mid-twentieth century, can cause fatal diseases including mesothelioma and lung cancer, with symptoms often taking years to develop," said Reuters. "According to estimates from the Health and Safety Executive, nearly 50,000 people will die from mesothelioma between 2009 and 2050, with deaths expected to peak in 2015. Asbestos-related claims contributed to mounting liabilities that threatened to overwhelm the Lloyd's of London insurance market in the late 1980s and early 1990s."

U.S. health officials estimate that there are about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the country each year and that this figure is expected to remain steady or increase over the coming decade.

One of the Supreme Court justices said "The negligent exposure of an employee to asbestos during the insurance policy period has a sufficient causal link with subsequently arising mesothelioma to trigger the insurer's obligation."UK

The Guardian newspaper reported that "Britain and Ireland's largest trade union, Unite, welcomed the 'landmark' ruling, which it said would affect 'many of the 2,500 people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.' Its challenge was on behalf of the family of Charles O'Farrell, a retired member who died of mesothelioma in 2003."

 

March 22, 2012

NEW RESEARCH FINDINGS ON TREATMENT
OF PLEURAL MESOTHELIOMA PATIENTS

Findings of a recent medical research study are favoring a less extensive surgery treatment for victims of pleural mesothelioma were recently published in an important medical journal that tracks new developments in cancer research.  The study showed that a surgery called pleurectomy/decortications (P/D), in which surgeons operate and remove part of the lining surrounding the lungs and possibly part, but not all of a lung is more effective than a more extensive surgery.

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common of the types of asbestos-caused cancers that have killed hundreds of thousands of victims. It develops after people are exposed to asbestos, usually in a workplace or occupational environment, and inhale tiny, microscopic particles of the material. These particles then work their way into the linings of a victim’s lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over a span of several decades, generate cancer cells which form deadly tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

The findings, which were published in the April 2012 issue of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer's (IASLC) Journal of Thoracic Oncology, were posted on the United Kingdom’s Medical News Today, one of the leading in independent health and medical news websites on the Internet.

The site report said that patients with early stage malignant pleural mesothelioma may be eligible for aggressive multi-modality therapy involving surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy and there has been a controversy over which of two main approaches is superior.  One is called extrapleural pnemonectomy (EPP), a very extensive surgery where surgeons remove the entire diseased lung, lung lining (pleura), part of the membrane covering the heart (pericardium) and part of the diaphragm. The other approach, P/D involves a less extensive surgery called pleurectomy/decortication (P/D), where surgeons remove part of the lining around the lungs, potentially part, but not all, of the lung, and potentially part of the diaphragm and/or membrane around the heart.

Medical News Today said that according to the study, "EPP resulted in higher mortality and morbidity than P/D, and P/D resulted in significantly better survival in our experience as in others." The authors of the study "propose that P/D becomes the standard surgical procedure offered as part of multi-modality therapy in malignant pleural mesothelioma." Until recently, EPP was the considered the standard of treatment. But this latest study along with other recent research seems to point to P/D becoming the new standard of treatment.

The report said that Dr. Michael Weyant, thoracic surgeon and assistant professor at the University of Colorado, wrote an editorial in the April JTO about this topic. He concludes that, "the results of the current study by Lang-Lazdunksi et al provide additional data that should lead us to consider P/D in all trials of treatment for MPM. It is too early based on this data to completely abandon EPP altogether as there may be patient subsets where the potential reward outweighs the risks of the procedure." 

Medical News Today said the lead author of this work is Dr. Loïc Lang-Lazdunski, and co-authors include Dr. David Landau and Dr. James Spicer, all at King's College London-Division of Cancer Studies for the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.
In the United States health officials say there are about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of malignant mesothelioma diagnosed each year. Treatment of this form of cancer is very difficult because few cases are diagnosed early enough to treat effectively because the disease has such a long latency period. Published data shows that most victims are told they will have less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed.

 

March 21, 2012

NEW STUDY SHOWS PROMISE FOR CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENT OF MALIGNANT MESOTHELIOMA

New advances in medical research continue to raise hopes that a cure can be found for malignant mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, as well as other forms of cancer. Each day news studies are being published in respected medical journals that demonstrate that researchers are continuing to seek a medical breakthrough. One recent study involving studies on tumors has scientists optimistic that they may have found the key to developing a new drug that could lower the damaging effects of chemotherapy while increasing the power of this medical approach to treating cancer.

Most everyone is familiar with the sometimes-debilitating side effects of chemotherapy with patients losing hair, energy among other issues. Now, a team of Duke University researchers has broken down the components of a key molecule that can be a transporter of chemotherapy directly into diseased cells without harming healthy tissue. This has been a continual health issue in the treatment of cancer since chemotherapy was introduced decades ago.

"Knowing the structure and properties of the transporter molecule may be the key to changing the way that some chemotherapies, for example, could work in the body to prevent tumor growth," said senior auth or Seok-Yong Lee, assistant professor of biochemistry at Duke, in comments posted on the university's medical school web site. The posting provides the following details:

The transporter molecule, called a concentrative nucleoside transporter, works by moving nucleosides, the building blocks of DNA and RNA, from the outside to the inside of cells. It also transports nucleoside-like chemo drugs through cell membranes. Once inside the cells, the nucleoside-like drugs are modified into nucleotides that are incorporated into DNA in ways that prevent tumor cells from dividing and functioning.

"We discovered the structure of the transporter molecule, and now we believe it is possible to improve nucleoside drugs to be better recognized by a particular form of the transporter molecule that resides in certain types of tissue," Lee said. in the posting. "Now we know the transporter molecule has three forms, which recognize different drugs and reside in different tissues."

The team determined the chemical and physical principles a transporter molecule uses to recognize the nucleosides, "so if you can improve the interactions between the transporter and the drug, you won't need as much of the drug to get it into the tumor cells efficiently," Lee said. "Knowing the shape of the transporters will let scientists design drugs that are recognized well by this transporter." Because the drugs enter healthy cells as well as tumor cells, giving a lower dose of drug that targets tumor tissue would be the best scenario, said Lee, who is also a member of the Duke Ion channel Research Unit. "Healthy cells don't divide as often as tumor cells, so lowering the amount of drug given overall would be an effective approach to killing tumors while protecting patients."

The researchers studied transporter molecules from Vibrio cholera, a comma-shaped bacterium. The bacterial transporter serves as a good model system for studying human transporters because they share similar amino acid sequences. They found that both the human and bacterial transporter use a sodium gradient to import nucleosides and drugs into the cells.

Lee and his team said that they will next try to understand which features of the transporter confer the ability to recognize certain chemo drugs and ultimately to design drugs that can easily enter the cells. The posting also said the work won a prize for Dr. Lee, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences Award, which he will receive at the Biophysical Society meeting in February.

The web site said that work on the project  was funded by the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Klingenstein Fund, the Mallinckrodt Foundation, the Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Research Award from the March of Dimes Foundation, and the NIH Director's New Innovator Award, in addition to start-up funds from the Duke University Medical Center.

 

March 19, 2012

VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS ASBESTOS VERDICT

The Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a jury’s verdict that found a manufacturer liable for damages in an asbestos case in which a former Navy petty officer died of mesothelioma. The high court found the verdict proper but reduced some of the damages awarded to the former sailor’s family on a legal technicality.

Robert Hardick, according to trial testimony, worked as a shipfitter and machinery repairman onboard Navy ships and breathed in asbestos fibers when he worked on Navy ships between the 1950s and the 1970s. Lawyers said Hardick was a resident of Kentucky when he died of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, in 2009 at age 69.
Hardick’s family was awarded nearly $6 million damages after a trial in 2010 in which Hardick’s lawyers proved that John Crane Inc., a Chicago-area maker of valves and gaskets for ships and submarines was liable for the exposure to asbestos that caused Hardick’s mesothelioma. John Crane has been the defendant in numerous asbestos cases because its product was once commonly used in ships built at the Newport News shipyard and other shipyards.

The high court ruled that while the verdict was proper the jury should not have been allowed by the trial judge to consider and award damages for pain and suffering involving a sailor.

According to a report in the Virginia Daily Press, “The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that pecuniary damages — losses that can be firmly calculated and defined — are allowed for seamen in federal maritime cases. Non-pecuniary damages, such as those caused by suffering and emotional losses, are barred, the court said. Citing U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the high court said a "seaman" is a broadly used maritime term. To meet the definition, you only have to "contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission." Everyone from cooks to cabin boys to ship firemen can be considered seamen.”

In doing so the court ruled that Hardick’s family was legally entitled to nearly $3 million for medical expenses, funeral expenses, and the income and "services" that Hardick would have provided to his family if he lived.
Legal experts say that it is not unusual for judges to make technical errors during trials and note that the verdict in favor of Hardick’s family is one of the latest in asbestos-based litigation that has occurred in the court system for several decades. The legal point, they say, is that manufacturers, distributors, employers and others responsible for exposing individuals to workers are continuing to be found liable in asbestos cases and have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in jury verdicts and settlements.

Many of these victims have been Navy veterans who were routinely exposed to asbestos-laden parts and structures in ships during their careers at a time when the use of asbestos was not under the strict regulations that are currently in place out of concern for human safety.

National health statistics show that a disproportionate number of Navy veterans are among the 2,000 to 3,000 new mesothelioma cases that are being diagnosed in the United States each year. Most victims are told they will have less than 18 months to live after being diagnosed.

This is because the cancer is usually so far advanced by the time it is detected that most cases are untreatable by traditional methods such as surgery, radiology and chemotherapy.

Most cases of mesothelioma are similar to Hardick’s, in that victims unknowingly inhale invisible particles of the material at work. The particles then work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and, over several decades, generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

 

March 1, 2012

MESOTHELIOMA VICTIM SEEKS
NATIONAL REGISTRY FOR ASBESTOS SITES

As a huge controversy continues to swirl around Canada’s asbestos industry and whether it should be abolished a man who suffers from asbestos-caused cancer is demanding that the government create a national registry of buildings that contain the hazardous material to help prevent others from developing the deadly cancer.

The campaign is being led by Howard Willems, a 59-year-old Saskatoon man who is now fighting the malignant mesothelioma he developed from his work as a federal food inspector at older food plants in Saskatchewan. His case was profiled by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which has conducted in-depth investigations about the country’s asbestos mining industry.

The national network uncovered financial links between asbestos interests and researchers who produced studies that downplayed some of the dangers of asbestos, exposure to which is the overwhelming cause of malignant mesothelioma. The investigation has caused a sensation in the Canadian media and raised concerns about the integrity of the one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, McGill University.

The CBC investigation comes in the midst of a national debate over whether Canada should join most other western countries in banning asbestos out of moral and health concerns or whether the last remaining mines should receive government financial assistance.

In another CBC report about Willems’ drive for a national registry he argues that “everyone has a right to know when they go into a workplace or when they’re going into a building, it is safe.”
As the CBC reported:

Only a short time ago, Willems was fit enough to hike the Grand Canyon with his wife. Today, he needs a cane to walk. Though he remains upbeat, Willems had one lung removed in 2011 and his other lung is continually monitored. Research shows that 98 per cent of people with mesothelioma die within three years.Willems has been a federal food plant inspector for more than 30 years. He says he now realizes he was exposed to asbestos when he inspected plants while they were being renovated, especially during the removal of pipes with asbestos insulation. “When the light hit the right way you could see the fibres in the air.”He says no one seemed to be concerned at the time about the dangers of breathing in the fibres, and that a registry would help workers to be better informed. “Something as simple as knowing and putting on a mask going into those scenarios could have prevented all of that,” he says, referring to his lung cancer.

Willems’ campaign follows on the heels of similar requests by the Canadian Cancer Society and environmental activist Daniel Green, who says the Quebec government has a list of 1,550 buildings containing asbestos, but won’t allow the public to see it.

“When we asked the government to give us the list [of addresses] they refused.… the government is telling us, 'We will not tell you of the asbestos in buildings you own as taxpayers,'”  Green told the CBC.
In the United States the government has imposed much stricter laws and regulations involving the use and handling of asbestos and there are numerous resources available from government agencies detailing areas in which asbestos has been found. There are also many local, state and federal hot lines on which citizens can report asbestos incidents or dangers.

Government authorities also prosecute individuals and companies who violate laws involving the handling or disposal of asbestos. In addition to government regulations, there have been tens of thousands of asbestos lawsuits filed on behalf of mesothelioma victims who have won hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and jury awards against manufacturers and distributors of asbestos and employers who were negligent in providing for worker safety.

 

February 27, 2012

EXXON SUES INSURERS TO RECOUP ASBESTOS LAWSUIT COSTS

If there was ever any question about the huge amount of money that asbestos victims are recovering in settlements of their asbestos lawsuits and jury awards it was certainly answered in a recent legal action by Exxon Mobil Corp., which has been described as the second-most valuable company in the world.

Exxon, which has climbed to that exalted financial status in part because of its 1999 purchase of former rival Mobil for $85.2 billion in stock and assumed debt, recently filed suit in New York state court against dozens of insurance company with which the corporate giant had taken out policies.

The reason: Exxon wants the insurers to pay up for the huge amounts of costs that Exxon has suffered over asbestos lawsuits. According to Bloomberg News, "The oil producer filed the lawsuit yesterday against some underwriters at Lloyd’s of London and other insurers, seeking a declaration of their 'rights, duties and obligations' to cover Exxon Mobil’s defense costs and indemnify the company for money it’s obligated to pay as a result of asbestos claims."

Bloomberg said that, according to filings in the case, the claims arise from alleged exposure during several decades to asbestos-containing materials at facilities owned by Exxon Corp. and Mobil Corp., and Mobil’s manufacture and distribution of asbestos-containing products from 1963 until about 1980.
“Claims by thousands of plaintiffs against Exxon Mobil have been settled or otherwise disposed of,” the Irving, Texas- based company said in the complaint. “Thousands more remain pending against Exxon Mobil, and Exxon Mobil expects many more to be filed in the future,” reported Bloomberg News, which said Lloyd’s of London declined to comment on the lawsuit.

 

February 24, 2012

ASBESTOS FROM FATHER’S OVERALLS CITED
IN MAN’S SAD DEATH FROM MESOTHELIOMA

When Keith Turnbull was a wee lad growing up in Watford, a town northwest of London, his father was an asbestos molder and used to come home with his overalls covered in a chalky dust. That dust – a conglomeration of asbestos-contaminated debris – wound up causing Turnbull’s recent death to mesothelioma, according to a British coroner. The death of Turnbull, a retired printer, is another tragic case of second-hand exposure to asbestos becoming fatal.


Mesothelioma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and as is seen in Turnbull’s case it can take five or six decades to develop within a victim who has been exposed to asbestos. In most cases of mesothelioma the victim is exposed directly, usually at a workplace. In Turnbull’s case it was through exposure from his father, who worked at Cape Universal asbestos factory in nearby Croxley Moor.
Turnbull’s obituary was written up in the Watford Observer newspaper, which reported:


“Coroner Edward Thomas said Keith’s father was exposed to asbestos while working at Cape Universal and it was brought home with him. Martyn (Keith’s brother) recalls his father, an asbestos molder, coming home wearing his work overalls. He remembers them covered in dust. At one time he describes him looking like a snowman.
‘The family would greet him and hug him as he came through the door and they were clearly exposed to asbestos at that stage. He had no knowledge that there was any particular problem. Those who worked in that industry had no idea.’”


Mesothelioma in the overwhelming number of cases occurs when a person unknowingly inhales tiny particles of asbestos which work their way into the linings of the lungs and over several decades generate cancer cells which can form deadly tumors. In most cases mesothelioma is not diagnosed until it is too late to treat and most victims are given less than 18 months to live after the cancer is discovered.


In Turnbull’s case, he was diagnosed in 2008 and was told he had just six months to live. He took expensive trips to Germany for radical treatment of the cancer and managed to hold on for three years before dying at the age of 66. His widow, Judith, said that “because he came into contact with asbestos before the dangers of the material were known, Mr. Turnbull could not claim any compensation for his condition and was forced to retire.”


Now, Linda Turnbull fears for others who may have been directly or indirectly exposed to the dangers of an asbestos factory that was only about 500 meters from where her husband grew up. It was not until 1985 that a ban was placed on asbestos there.


“It will almost certainly affect many people who were in contact with asbestos 20 or 30 years ago and who so far will be unaware that the clock is ticking,” she told the newspaper.


Asbestos exposure had been an increasing problem in the United Kingdom where the number of cases of mesothelioma has risen in recent years. The UK’s imposition of stricter regulations and bans on asbestos usage trailed similar action which was taken in the United States by the late 1970s.


 National health statistics show that about 2,000 to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma each year. Most of these cases are through direct exposure, normally in the workplace, but numerous cases of second-hand exposure like Turnbull’s are also reported.

 

 

February 23, 2012

DEVELOPER FACES FIVE YEARS IN PRISON
FOR ASBESTOS REMOVAL VIOLATION

In yet another reminder that the dangers of asbestos are still ever-present, a New York developer has been indicted on federal criminal charges for his role in violating the Clean Air Act by not following strict asbestos laws designed to protect the public. Federal officials said that Anastasios Kolokouris, a 28-year-old Avon, N.Y., man could face a prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine on charges of hiring workers who had no training in asbestos handling to work on large amounts of asbestos in a downtown warehouse.

Legal experts say that it is not unusual for federal authorities to strictly enforce asbestos environmental laws because of the toxic dangers of the material. Since the 1970s strict rules and regulations about the handling of asbestos have been put in place and criminal charges have been filed in hundreds of cases in which these rules were not followed. In many of the cases, according to court filings by federal prosecutors, developers or work crews attempted short cuts in order to maximize their profits at the expense of public health.

Exposure to asbestos has been identified as the overwhelming cause of a deadly cancer known as malignant mesothelioma. Victims typically are exposed at a worksite and unknowingly inhale tiny, microscopic particles of asbestos which work their way into the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs. In most cases the particles, over about 30 to 40 years, generate cancer cells which form deadly tumors or spread to other parts of the body. Most victims are not diagnosed with the cancer until it is so far advanced that it is untreatable by common methods such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

The indictment by a federal grand jury of Kolokouris is the latest development in a case that began two months ago, according to News10 in Rochester, N.Y., which reported that “an inspector from the Asbestos Control Bureau of the state’s Department of Labor visited the property on Dec. 13 following a complaint. There, the inspector observed large quantities of material that looked like asbestos in and around the dumpster where people were working.”
Federal officials said that more than 90 bags of dry, friable asbestos were seized at the site and tested positive for asbestos. Officials also warned that “any person who was in or around 920 Exchange Street between Aug. 1 and Dec. 14, 2011, may have been exposed.”

There have been several recent cases of asbestos crimes committed in New York, primarily at redevelopment sites at which it was necessary to remove large amounts of asbestos from buildings. In one case government officials as well as private businessmen were charged in a massive case.

 

2/21/2012
ASBESTOS VICTIM'S FAMILY AWARDED $9 MILLION IN DAMAGES BY A VIRGINIA JURY

In the most recent of a long history of jury awards in asbestos exposure cases, a Virginia jury has awarded the family of a former shipyard worker who died of an asbestos-caused cancer $9.18 million in damages. The verdict was returned by a Newport News jury on behalf of the widow and ton sons of John K. Bristow, who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma after he retired from Newport News Shipbuilding, where he had worked for 37 years, according to testimony in the case.

The defendant in the case, asbestos manufacturer John Crane Inc. was found to have "substantially contributed" to the Virginia Beach man's death at the age of 68 a year ago. Bristow retired as a design engineer at the shipyard and, according to medical testimony at the trial, probably was exposed to the asbestos that led to him developing mesothelioma in the 1960s to 1970s.

Bristow's lawyers argued that John Crane should be held liable for damages because it should have known about the hazards of asbestos and exposure to it and did not take adequate measure to warn workers and ensure their safety. They had asked for nearly $10 million in damages.


2/17/2012
LAWSUITS CLAIM TRUST TRYING TO AVOID ABESTOS PAYOUTS BY DISCRIMINATING NAVY SHIP WORKERS

Those who are accused of negligently causing asbestos-caused illnesses have long employed unique defenses in attempting to avoid financial responsibility. A recent lawsuit filed in New York City claims that one of those companies is unfairly discriminating against men and women who worked on U.S. Navy ships abroad and developed malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and gastrointestinal cancer.

At issue a refusal by a trust set up by Johns Manville Corp., which manufactured building materials that included asbestos, to pay benefits to those who developed asbestos-caused illnesses because of the asbestos in the company's materials. The suit was filed by men from England, Greece and Malta who, according to the suit, were employed as workers on U.S. Navy ship, while the ships were docked in those countries. The men also worked on the ships while they were docked in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Norfolk Naval Shipyard, in Virginia, according to the suit.

"In the face of both domestic and international law to the contrary, let alone common sense, the trust and the [trust's claims processing company] have each taken the position that active naval warships of the United States Navy, while being repaired, maintained, serviced, or refurbished at both civilian and military shipyards of other nations and the United States, somehow lost their sovereignty as territory of this country," the plaintiffs said in their court filing. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, "Each man (or his representative) filed a claim against a trust set up to compensate those who became ill from Johns Manville's products. The men say their illnesses resulted from their exposure to the asbestos dust and fibers contained in Johns Manville products found in the U.S. naval ships boiler rooms, engine rooms and other confined areas. They say the trust has wrongly concluded that their exposure occurred off U.S. soil."

For many decades, asbestos was a key component of any U.S. Navy construction or repair project. It was prized for its versatility, fire-retardant and insulating qualities and resistance to corrosion. It was not only a vital part of every ships boiler room as well as lining the vessels compartments, it was also part of the fabric of the textiles used in clothing and equipment for both shipyard workers and military personnel. Tons of asbestos were used in every ships insulation and in the fireproofing of countless miles of pipe and the walls, doors, ceilings and floors over section of every ship. Important parts of machinery such as clutches, brakes, gaskets, meters, electrical fixtures also included asbestos. It was impossible for most crew members or shipyard workers not to come into regular contact with materials that put them at high risk of exposure to asbestos particles. Some personnel reported being showered by asbestos debris while others never saw the microscopic particles they inhaled. The typical way that malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers develop is for these particles to invade the body, fight off the immune systems defenses and, over several decades, generate cancer cells which form deadly tumors and spread to other parts of the body.

National health statistics show that it is a tragic fact that a disproportionate percentage of the victims of asbestos-caused diseases are military personnel or veterans, particularly those who served in the U.S. Navy due to the prevalence of asbestos in shipyards and on virtually every naval vessel that had been constructed into the 1970s. There are also many reported cases of second-hand exposure in which workers or military personnel unknowingly carried asbestos in their clothing to their homes and exposed their families to the particles. In general, the greater the exposure to these dangerous asbestos particles, the more likely a person was to fall victim to these diseases.


2/15/2012: ALARM-RINGER FOR 9/11 ASBESTOS DANGERS DIES

One of the key figures in focusing public and governmental attention on the dangers faced by responders to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City has died. Dr. Stephen M. Levin, a co-director of the Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan died at 70 years of age in his home in Upper Grandview, N.Y. of cancer, according to his wife.

Levin earned a reputation as one of the nation's leading experts on occupational medicine and was one of the loudest voices warning about the health threats posed by asbestos and other materials released by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers after the attacks. Tens of thousands of firefighters, police officials, construction workers and others were exposed in the fallout after the attacks and Levin and other medical officials were at the forefront of a plan to provide health screenings for those who might have been exposed.

There were many materials released into the air after the attack and much of the concern focused on asbestos, which is strictly regulated because of the lethal health hazards posed by exposure. The overwhelming numbers of cases of malignant mesothelioma - one of the deadliest cancers - are caused by asbestos exposure, in most cases in the workplace. However, in cases such as building demolitions or disasters such as the 9/11 attacks, huge amounts of asbestos can be spread.

After the 9/11 attacks Levin was quoted in the media as saying: "I'm not saying we'll see a huge wave of cancers in 20 years, but I know the rate won't be zero. The point is not to count statistics but to plug the people who need it into care and to detect the diseases as early as possible, when we still might have a shot at curing them."


2/13/2012: EUROPEAN EXECS SENTENCED TO JAIL, ORDERED TO PAY MILLIONS IN DAMAGES OVER ASBESTOS DEATHS In a stunning development that has made international headlines two prominent European business executives had been sentenced to 16 years in jail and ordered to pay millions of euros to victims who suffered asbestos-caused diseases due to the executives' negligence at Italian plants.

Reuters News Agency reported that the verdict and sentencings might establish a precedent in safety-in-the-workplace litigation that has been filed or may be filed in other countries and that relatives of the victims and others who filled the courtroom were crying and applauding when the judge in the case handed down the severe sentences.

The case involved allegations against a billionaire Swiss industrialist and a Belgian executive who were charged and found guilty of failing to protect their workers from the dangers of asbestos at Italian plants that have been linked to more than 2,000 asbestos-caused fatalities.

The defendants are the former owner of the Swiss fibre cement firm Eternit, Stephan Schmidheiny, 64, and former executive Jean Louis Marie Ghislain de Cartier de Marchienne, 90. Lawyers for both defendants, who were tried in abstensia, said they will appeal the verdicts and the sentences that were imposed by a Turin judge.


The Senate Rejects Asbestos Trust Fund
The Senate stood up for the rights of working people throughout America when it struck down a proposed bill that would have established a $140 billion trust fund to compensate victims of asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos ads don't flood Sessions with angry phone calls
An advertising blitz criticizing Sen. Jeff Sessions' support for asbestos trust fund legislation didn't result in a flood of angry phone calls to his office, but it sure got him upset with the trial lawyers who helped pay for the ads.

Surgery After Chemotherapy Shows Promise for Patients With Mesothelioma
Results from a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology indicate that neoadjuvant chemotherapy appears promising for the treatment of patients with malignant mesothelioma.

Experimental Surgery Gives Cancer Patient Hope: Woman Diagnosed With 'Untreatable' Disease
Nine months ago, Karen Grant was diagnosed with a cancer that doctors said was untreatable, but an experimental surgery gave her a sliver of hope.

Halliburton Co. to pay $30 million to asbestos victims
About 120 families of people exposed to deadly asbestos while working in shipyards, construction sites and industrial plants in the Pacific Northwest or serving on Navy ships serviced in Seattle will be paid $30 million by the Halliburton Co. as part of a recent $4.3 billion national settlement to wrap up asbestos liabilities.

Yonkers schools fined by EPA for failing to comply with federal asbestos laws
Under the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, local New York education authorities since 1986 are required to inspect all school buildings for asbestos damage, develop abatement plans and keep the public, students and teachers informed about asbestos related hazards.

Nation's largest asbestos cleanup scam results in two longest federal jail sentences for environmental crimes
In the longest terms of imprisonment in U.S. history for a federal environmental crime, father and son owners of asbestos abatement companies in New York State were sentenced December 23, 2004, in U.S. District Court in Syracuse to 25 years and 19.5 years of imprisonment.

"Family of mesothelioma victim awarded $10 million from Ford Motor Company"
A jury ordered Ford Motor Co. to pay $10 million to the family of a Michigan woman who died of mesothelioma in 2000.

"Pfizer agrees to pay $430 million for asbestos litigation"
Pfizer, Inc. is the world's largest drug maker and has now agreed to pay $430 million to resolve most personal injury claims against its subsidiary Quigley Co. Pfizer bought Quigley in 1968, which sold products containing asbestos in the 1970s used to coat steel-making equipment.

Over 100,000 people at risk for mesothelioma after 9/11 attacks
According to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), over 100,000 individuals present in Manhattan during and immediately after the collapse of the Twin Towers are at risk for developing mesothelioma.

"CDC: No end in sight for asbestos deaths"
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a tremendous rise in the number of deaths related to asbestos exposure from the late 1960s to present day - and they only expect death tolls to rise.

Report: Auto Mechanics Exposed To High Asbestos Levels In Brakes
Auto mechanics are being exposed to dangerous levels of cancer-causing asbestos used to line brakes and are not informed of the risk, a study commissioned by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has found.

2 Texas Juries Award Tyler Pipe Employees $26 Million For Occupational Exposure To Asbestos
Twice in less than a week, a jury here awarded longtime employees of Tyler Pipe Industries Inc. a multimillion-dollar award for occupational injuries from exposure to asbestos at Tyler's iron foundry in Swan, Texas.

Baltimore Jury Awards $10.3 Million To 14 Plaintiffs In Last Round Of Consolidated Asbestos Cases
In the last set of 400 consolidated asbestos cases to be decided in a month-long trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court, a jury on Aug. 9 awarded 14 people suffering from asbestos-related diseases $10.3 million.

Georgia-Pacific Knew of Asbestos Dangers, Report Charges
Georgia-Pacific kept selling asbestos-containing joint compounds in the 1960's and 1970's even though its leaders knew about the serious health problems caused by asbestos, according to a recent news story (Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Patty Bond, September 15, 2002).

San Francisco Jury Awards $33.7 Million To Former Navy Electrician
In what is believed to be the largest verdict ever in a California asbestos case, a San Francisco jury awarded a total of $33,700,000 to a former navy electrician and his wife.

CDC Says Asbestos Deaths Are Skyrocketing
Asbestos deaths in the United States have skyrocketed since the late 1960s and will probably keep on climbing through the next decade because of long-ago exposure to the material, once widely used for insulation and fireproofing, the government said Thursday.

Bankruptcy exit plan for generator firm gains
The Babcock & Wilcox unit of McDermott International Inc. has won court approval of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy by putting assets worth about $1.8 billion into a trust to pay more than 222,000 asbestos-injury claims.

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