Archive for July, 2010

Asbestos Use Widespread In India

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has been researching the global asbestos trade since 2009. As you are likely well aware, asbestos is the cancer-causing mineral that is a leading cause of mesothelioma, a devastating form of cancer. While asbestos is restricted in most industrialized nations, it is still distributed and somewhat aggressively marketed in developing countries.

In conjunction with BBC’s International News Services, the ICIJ launched an advanced documentation campaign in Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, Russia and the United States to research and distribute information about the asbestos industry. In a new article published through “Dangers in the Dust: Inside the Global Asbestos Trade,” the project’s website, reporters addressed head-on the widespread use of asbestos in Indian construction and manufacturing today.

Sheets of asbestos are cost-effective for use in construction, and entire dusty factories in India are dedicated to producing this highly demanded, yet lethal time bomb of a product. Experts believe the foundation has been laid for an emerging epidemic for illnesses related to asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma and lung cancer, throughout India. The government is aware of these dangers, but it is against politicians’ best interest to interfere with a trade that provides needed materials and jobs in India’s rapidly growing economy. India now maintains the second largest asbestos market worldwide, behind China. Products containing asbestos bear no warning labels, and the lobbyists and activists fighting for change have had little success because the asbestos market legitimately serves the livelihoods of tens of thousands of residents, many of them poor.

Meanwhile, asbestos has been strictly limited or banned in 52 developed nations— its use is completely banned in the European Union. Believe it or not, the mineral is still utilized legally in the United States for the manufacture of designated products including car brakes and gun parts. For more information about asbestos exposure in consumer products and workplaces, and the ways mesothelioma develops via asbestos exposure, consider contacting a qualified  mesothelioma law firm.

Abestos in California State Rock?

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Asbestos had, from antiquity up through the 1970s, been prized for numerous properties.  For one, it’s incredibly lightweight.  When mixed into concrete, it makes that concrete lighter and increases its tensile strength, which makes it easier to transport and means construction companies don’t have to use as much of it.  It was also used extensively in other industries, including the field of shipbuilding, to serve as insulation for pipes, boilers, and throughout buildings, since it’s a very poor conductor of heat.  It’s also an excellent fire retardant.  It comes in two forms, serpentine and crocidolite.

Due to all these attributes, California lawmakers were proud of the possibilities of the mineral, of which it had considerable quantities.  In 1965, serpentine was named the state rock in order to help bolster the burgeoning asbestos mining industry.  Now, according to an article reported in AP, lawmakers are considering stripping serpentine of its privileged status.

It’s hard to disagree with the reasons put forth by Democratic state Senator Gloria Romero, the legislator spearheading the call.  According to her, California has the highest rate of death from mesothelioma in the nation, and it just doesn’t seem right to be celebrating a rock known for containing the lethal mineral.  Indeed, a large part of the reason why serpentine was originally designated the state rock was because of its asbestos content, so one can certainly see Romero’s displeasure at the current state of affairs.

Historically, the rock was crushed to release its asbestos fibers.  Doing so might release the fibers into the air, where they can be inhaled by workers or can settle on their clothing to be inhaled by someone in the home.  Once inhaled, asbestos fibers cannot be broken down by the body, leading, after a latency period of anywhere from 10 to 50 years, to uncontrolled growth of mesothelium cells.  Once this uncontrolled growth starts, the disease spreads rapidly and devastatingly.  After the onset of mesothelioma, victims’ life expectancies are often measured in months.

Asbestos Facts

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Chances are, if you’ve found this blog, you already know some asbestos facts.  Chief among them is that exposure to it can cause mesothelioma.  That’s why you’ll often see the two linked when you read articles about mesothelioma settlements and the like.  But do you know how the two are linked?  Below are some facts about this mineral, and what it can mean for those who are (unfortunately) exposed to it.

Asbestos is a mineral that is found naturally in a fiber-like form.  Due to this form, it’s very lightweight and is a very good insulator and a poor conductor.  These properties have caused it to be historically prized as a construction or industrial material, and it’s been used as insulation for pipes, boilers, buildings, and ships.  Furthermore, when asbestos is mixed with concrete, it increases that concrete’s tensile strength, which means less concrete needs to be used and transported.

Asbestos can be categorized by the two forms (sepentine and amphibole) that it comes in.  Amphibole asbestos can be further broken down into different types, which include crocidolite and amosite.

While asbestos can be found all over the world, the historical leader of mining production for the mineral has been Canada.  Today, other nations, including Russia, Australia, China, and South Africa all produce large quantities of asbestos and compete with Canada.

Back to the previously mentioned fiber-like form of asbestos: when the mineral is disturbed, the fibers very easily break down into dust clouds of miniscule particles which can become airborne.  From there, they’re very easily inhaled or swallowed.  The body, unfortunately, cannot break down the inhaled fibers.  After many years of dormancy, these fibers can start to eat away at the lining of the lungs, a devastating process which can cause many diseases.  Chief among these are lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.

That, right there, is the sad connection between the two.

Mesothelioma Facts and Info

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Mesothelioma is an exceedingly rare type of cancer that usually attacks the lining of the lungs and stomach, which is referred to as the mesothelium.  How rare is it?  The rate of prevalence for contraction of mesothelioma is generally considered to be somewhere between seven and 40 people per million population, in the United States.

Though that’s (thankfully) a pretty low number, it’s still a heartbreaking figure.  That’s because, although there’s treatment available for mesothelioma, some of which may improve the quality of life of victims suffering from this disease, there is no cure for it, and life expectancy for those who who have this asbestos exposure-triggered cancer is often measured in mere months.

Due to the relative rarity of mesothelioma, information about it might be harder to find than for other diseases. Here, then, are some helpful tidbits of info about mesothelioma:

  • When considering mesothelioma cases, over 90% of them can be linked directly to asbestos exposure.
  • When handled improperly (such as when mining it or using it in an industry that employs it), asbestos fibers can be inhaled or swallowed.  Once it has entered the lungs or stomach, the fibers remain, unable to be broken down by the body.
  • Asbestos fibers lodged in the mesothelium will eventually cause cells making up the lining to divide rapidly.
  • After asbestos exposure, there is a latency period lasting anywhere from 10 to 50 years, during which no mesothelioma symptoms show up.
  • Once symptoms manifest themselves, the disease can spread quickly.  Common symptoms can include a lingering cough and chronic shortness of breath.
For more information about mesothelioma, speak to a resource person by calling 1-888-370-0121.  Alternately, consider contacting a mesothelioma law firm, one that has a wealth of information and experience on the matter.  They may be able to help secure compensation for those suffering from this devastating cancer.