Archive for August, 2010

Uses of Asbestos

Friday, August 27th, 2010

If we look to the history of asbestos as a commercially utilized mineral, there were many uses of asbestos.  That’s because this mineral, at one time very widely mined throughout the world (and still mined to a large degree today), had many properties that made it incredibly useful to many industries, especially the shipbuilding and construction industries.  Back at asbestos’s peak, in the middle of the 20th century, it was widely used despite concerns that it had ramifications for the health of workers exposed to it, concerns that had existed in one form or another since Greeks first mined and used the material over two millenia ago.

As previously mentioned, asbestos found its utilization highest in the construction and shipbuilding industries.  Within the field of construction, asbestos was used as an insulator.  Since it was such a fibrous mineral, asbestos can have significant amounts of air within it, which makes it a great insulator.  It was also used as a flame retardant for similar reasons.

Primarily, however, asbestos was utilized as an additive to cement.  Adding asbestos to cement had several advantages.  Of significant importance was that it increased the strength of cement by up to tenfold.  Because of this, less cement needed to be used for construction projects, which allowed for a) greater efficiency on the construction site and b) lowered transportation costs for the cement.  It worked wonderfully for those reasons.

In shipyards, asbestos had somewhat similar applications.  It was used as insulation for piping.  In this capacity, asbestos was ideal because it was cheap, lightweight, and excellent at the task needed.  Its use was not limited to pipes, as engines and boilers were often encased in asbestos as well.

Despite its apparent excellence as a construction supply, however, asbestos ultimately declined due to its incredibly negative side effect, namely, as the primary cause of mesothelioma.

If you or someone you love worked with asbestos in their line of work and has contracted mesothelioma, it might be a good idea to consider contacting a mesothelioma lawyer with a proven track record of success.  A mesothelioma settlement won’t cure the disease, but it may help making the quality of life of a victim suffering from the disease a bit better.

Mesothelioma Early Detection

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Mesothelioma early detection can be a real boon when it comes to fighting the disease.  While that seems to stands to reason—many diseases, it would seem, would be more likely to be treatable when detected early—this is also true when it comes to this devastating cancer caused by asbestos, according to an article on Asbestos.com.

According to the article, receiving an early diagnosis of mesothelioma might be harder than it seems.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, the cancer is so rare, with a prevalence of just 40 per 1,000,000 population in this country, that many doctors overlook it as a diagnosis option.  What’s more, its symptoms oftentimes resemble those of other, more common diseases, so mesothelioma often might not even cross a physician’s mind.

The article goes on to point out a couple of useful early detection methods.  One of them is called Mesomark, and it’s a blood test that measures the amount of Soluble Mesothelin-Related Peptides in the sample.  These SMRPs might be present in mesothelioma patients, which, in turn, might indicate the development of mesothelioma to physicians performing the test.

Though early detection, as previously mentioned, might be able to increase the quality of life and/or life expectancy of mesothelioma patients, this is still a crushing disease.  Though there are treatments, which may lessen suffering or slow its advance, there is, unfortunately, no cure.  What’s worse, the life expectancy of a victim suffering with mesothelioma can often be measured in just months.

Mesothelioma is most often caused by exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral that had been used for many years in several industries, especially the fields of shipbuilding and construction.  Asbestos was utilized for its lightweight flame-retardant and insulation properties; however, when inhaled, it’s incredibly dangerous, and can often lead to potentially lethal diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Asbestos Claims: GM Possibly Facing Billions

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Asbestos claims might reach billions of dollars for creditors of the GM bankruptcy estate, according to an article published on Bloomberg Businessweek (see “GM’s Estate May Face Billions in Asbestos Claims” for the original article.)  They were granted permission from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber to seek data from other parties to roughly determine the cost of such claims.

The plan formulated by Motors Liquidation Co., the former portion of General Motors that remains in bankruptcy, involves creating a trust.  This trust will allow Motors Liquidation Co. to leave bankruptcy with some funds earmarked for the payment of future tort claims.  The estate currently faces around $648 million for asbestos liability and might, down the road, face claims for up to 10 times that much.

Much of this asbestos liability comes from GM’s use of asbestos in their brake linings, something they used to do in the past.

Asbestos settlements are commonly reached because a worker has been exposed to asbestos in the past.  Much of this exposure occurs to workers in the shipbuilding and construction industries, both of which (historically) frequently used asbestos for its properties as a flame retardant and insulator.  A worker can inhale asbestos by working directly with it or by repairing something that was originally built or manufactured with the mineral.

The potential issues associated with asbestos exposure can be devastating.  Once inhaled in the lungs, asbestos fibers remain there because they cannot be broken down by the human body.  After a period of latency lasting anywhere from 10 to 50 years, mesothelioma can strike.  This cancer, once its symptoms manifest itself, moves incredibly quickly and is highly deadly: After all, though there are treatments for mesothelioma, there is no cure.  What’s more, the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with this disease is often measured in months.

If you think you may have suffered from asbestos exposure, you may want to consider contacting a mesothelioma law firm with a historical track record of success with settling asbestos claims.

NIOSH Mesothelioma Research

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

NIOSH—the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health—is part of the Department of Labor and works closely in tandem with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure workplace safety in the United States.  NIOSH and mesothelioma have a history together, as the government institution is responsible for much of the research that determined the insidiously devastating health effects asbestos can have on workers exposed to it.

Founded in 1970 by the same act of Congress that introduced OSHA and its regulations to American workplaces, the goals of NIOSH include researching work-related hazards and then taking steps to prevent them. It was research NIOSH conducted, for example, that persuaded OSHA to broaden its former definition of asbestos in regulatory language to include asbestos of all forms, including tremolite asbestos.

Today, the government agency is responsible for conducting a host of scientific research in the field of mesothelioma prevention.  Such topics researched include asbestos exposure prevention, asbestos abatement procedures, and studies on the disease itself.  In addition to these pioneering services, NIOSH also disseminates useful information about best practices regarding the handling of mesothelioma-linked materials.  Workplace guidelines and regulatory recommendations are also provided.

Though it’s merely one organization among many that currently combat this devastating cancer, the historical contributions NIOSH has made to the field of mesothelioma research should not be discounted.

If you think you might have suffered from mesothelioma exposure, it might be a good idea to contact a mesothelioma law firm to try and secure a settlement for your woes.  When researching law firms, you might want to consider the track record of the lawyers who practice there, especially with regard to similar cases in the past.  Though a secured settlement can’t undo the damage asbestos fibers have done, one might go a long way to helping defray the expensive costs associated with treating the disease.