Archive for September, 2010

September 26th: Mesothelioma Day

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Mesothelioma is an extremely rare cancer that afflicts somewhere between 7 and 40 people per 1,000,000 population in the United States.  It is most commonly linked to asbestos exposure.  Despite its lethality (the average life expectancy of someone given a mesothelioma diagnosis is often measured in months, and there is no cure for it), since it’s ultimately an exceedingly uncommon disease, not many people are aware of its particulars.  And that’s if they know of the disease at all.

That’s why the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has designated this upcoming September 26th as Mesothelioma Awareness Day.  According to an article posted on Mesothelioma.com, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has planned for a video and banner display situated at 10 Rockafeller Plaza.  The display is geared towards informing those who see it with important facts related to the disease, and to its primary cause—asbestos exposure.  (According to the article, asbestos exposure is the cause of 77% of all mesothelioma cases.)

Unfortunately and all too often, those who possess an awareness of mesothelioma are tragically afflicted by it, or know someone who is.  If you or someone you care about is currently struggling with this ravaging, rapidly advancing disease, you might want to consider contacting a law firm that is experienced in handling mesothelioma settlements.  Such a mesothelioma law firm might be able to secure financial compensation, depending on the particulars of the case in question, which might be able to go some ways toward helping defray the costs of treating this disease.

While mesothelioma, unfortunately, has no cure, there are treatments out there that may help extend the life expectancy of its victims, or the quality of life of people suffering from it.  Awareness about it—about its causes, manifestations, symptoms, and what to do about it all—might go some distance toward helping the safety of those at risk to contract it.

History of Asbestos: A Long, Sad Tale

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The history of asbestos use is a long and storied one marred by consistent tragedy.  The asbestos industry has been around, in one form or another, since antiquity.  Ancient Greeks mined the mineral for many uses, initially using it as a fabric supplement in the clothes of slaves.  As time went on, the ancient Greeks began to realize the extent of the mineral’s fire-resistant properties.  When they discovered this, asbestos began to become considered a more valuable commodity, and it was woven into the clothes of royalty, along with napkins and tablecloths.

Interestingly, the Greeks also began using it for insulation in construction and in ovens, which roughly mirrors how asbestos was used in modern times.  They also observed how slaves mining the mineral would take ill, the first of many such links between asbestos and diseases like mesothelioma.

The Romans also used asbestos for similar purposes.  Like the Greeks, they used asbestos in the creation of fine napkins and tablecloths, which proved particularly useful, since cleaning of the materials simply involved throwing them in a fire and removing them like-new.  Pliny the Elder, around this time, noted the “sickness of the lung” that afflicted many miners laboring in asbestos mines and discouraged others from buying slaves who had a history of working in the mines.

These dangers were apparent to ancient Romans like Pliny the Elder, but asbestos remained in widespread use throughout antiquity, through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and into the modern age.  Even today, asbestos is mined, and finds many applications in the contemporary world.  Recent uses have included widespread adoption within the construction and shipbuilding industries due to the very same flame retardant properties of asbestos that so enticed the Greeks and Romans of old.

We’ll continue our overview of the history of asbestos in a subsequent blog post.

The Mesothelioma Onset

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Mesothelioma is a devastating cancer that attacks the lung and stomach lining of its victims.  Although it is, thankfully, rare, affecting somewhere between 7 and 40 people per 1,000,000 in the United States, mesothelioma often ravages those who do get it.

Natural occurrence of the disease historically hovered around the 1 per 1,000,000 mark.  The cause for the relatively recent spike in prevalence, which occurred after World War II, is due to the widespread use of one of its causes: asbestos.  Asbestos is a relatively lightweight mineral that is mined all across the world.  For decades, asbestos was used in many industries, specifically the shipbuilding and construction industries. Its uses were legion.

In the field of construction, asbestos was an important additive to concrete for several reasons.  The fundamental reason was that it made concrete lighter and stronger, which had the secondary benefits of reducing the volume needed to build, as well as lowering transportation costs.  The light, fibrous nature of asbestos also made it an excellent insulator, since it trapped significant amounts of air between its feathery structures.  For this reason, it was used as a flame retardant and an insulator in the construction of buildings.

In the shipbuilding industry, uses were similar, centering around the insulation of various parts of the ship.  Its importance to ships might arguably be even grater than its utility as a construction material, because ships often depend on lightweight materials, a property asbestos had in spades.

Unfortunately, asbestos, as previously mentioned, also causes mesothelioma.  Since it’s so lightweight, it can be inhaled when disturbed, or settle on clothes to be kicked up and inhaled later.  Once inhaled, and after a latency period lasting anywhere from 10 to 50 years, it can trigger the onset of mesothelioma.  And once that disease’s symptoms finally manifest itself, it advances rapidly.  Although there are treatments for mesothelioma, there is no cure, and the life expectancy of those afflicted with it is often measured in mere months.

Asbestos Updates In Africa

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Use of asbestos in building materials such as roof sheet is banned in many countries, but this is frequently not enforced. However, according to a new report from AllAfrica Global Media, the government in Rwanda is making progressive steps forward. Their goal is to remove the mineral from the nation entirely.  These plans to safely banish asbestos could make Rwanda the first African nation to use no materials containing asbestos whatsoever.

Unfortunately, not every country intends to follow in Rwanda’s footsteps in eliminating asbestos, the dangerous cause of life-threatening illnesses like mesothelioma. In Ghana, construction of houses continues to involve the use of roof sheet containing asbestos. When asbestos is handled incorrectly or when its dust particles are accidentally inhaled, it sets the stage for mesothelioma and other deadly diseases, such as lung cancer.

A major issue with the roof sheet in Ghana is that rainfall actually washes the asbestos dust off the roofs and flows into major waterways. This water is then sourced for food preparation, introducing asbestos to the human population. Additionally, when roof sheet becomes old and cracks, previously dormant particles are disrupted and  released.

The chances of acquiring mesothelioma from asbestos exposure increase with length of exposure over extended periods of time. This means it is especially harmful to those individuals in the building construction industry.  Emmanuel Salu, a director of the Environmental Protection Agency in Ghana, recommends individuals contact a licensed asbestos inspection agency in the event that cracked, chipping or otherwise disturbed roof sheet is detected in the home or workplace.

Nations like Rwanda are setting an example for the rest of the world. Meanwhile, there is a worldwide trend toward increasing diagnosis of mesothelioma and other life-threatening illnesses caused by the various uses of asbestos. Advocating for government-enforced nationwide bans of the mineral is a proactive way to turn this trend around.

If you or someone you care about has been adversely affected by asbestos exposure, you might consider reaching out to a mesothelioma lawyer. Look for one with strong experience and a record of success in mesothelioma litigation, and feel free to simply ask for more information.