Archive for November, 2011

The History of Asbestos

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Although archaeologists have found evidence of asbestos almost 3000 years ago, the first known common uses of asbestos occurred in ancient Greece. The fibers were frequently woven into the clothing made for slaves until the fire resistant properties of the material became known. At that point, asbestos material quickly became regarded almost as valuable as gold. The Greeks also used asbestos fibers in royal clothing, table linens, and insulation for ovens. The ancient Romans were also aware of the material’s properties, using asbestos in construction, head dressings, and in table linens. The Romans would toss soiled napkins into the fire and then remove them to reveal the clean surface. The dangers of asbestos were also documented at this time. In fact, a Roman doctor named Pliny the Elder noted that the slaves who worked in asbestos mines developed a “sickness of the lung” which may well have been mesothelioma.

The history of asbestos shows that uses of asbestos began to decline after the fall of Rome. It was not until the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s that use of asbestos really took off on a global scale. As more factories were opened, asbestos was commonly used as insulation against the high temperatures generated by the steam-powered machines. Asbestos was also used to insulate pipes, turbines, ovens and kilns. As the demand for asbestos increased, more asbestos mines were opened, and by the turn of the century, doctors were reporting illnesses of the lungs in mine workers. However, these early health concerns about the material did not slow its use as asbestos was continuously used as an insulator in the construction of trains, ships, and automobiles. It was also used in housing construction in siding, cement and insulation.

As early as the 1920’s, medical research began to show a link between asbestos and certain types of cancer. Some asbestos manufacturers took actions to hide the truth about mesothelioma-linked materials from public awareness. However, in the 1970’s the dangers of asbestos finally became known to the public, and the U.S., along with many other countries, began to create and enforce regulations that limited the use of asbestos in the interest of public health.

Unfortunately, people who worked in the industries affected by mesothelioma did not find out about their own illness until decades later. Mesothelioma victims often experience no symptoms until decades after their exposure to asbestos. By the time a diagnosis is made, victims of mesothelioma sometimes have only months to live. While taking legal action against negligent companies was initially difficult due to the many years between exposure and symptoms, courts in many states can be sympathetic to the needs of mesothelioma victims and generally supportive of their right to compensation.

 

Possible New Mesothelioma Treatment

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

In June of 2011, the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Medicine published the results of promising new research in the treatment of mesothelioma. The study, involving 28 patients, compared the traditional method of extrapleural pnumonectomy (EPP), which involves the removal of a lung, and a unique combination of lung-sparing surgery and photodynamic therapy (PDT). To the surprise of the researchers, the patients who received PDT and lung-sparing surgery have, as a group, shown an unusually long survival rate.

Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that usually develops in the lining of the lungs called the pleura. Initially, mesothelioma tends to develop slowly, usually developing 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Because mesothelioma presents few symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, the large majority of patients are given less than a year to live.

In this study, 14 of the 28 patients studied received a traditional course of mesothelioma treatment. Because the malignant cells can envelope the entire lung, the traditional EPP method of treatment involves a combination of lung removal, chemotherapy and radiation. After treatment, this group had an average survival rate of 8.4 months, which is consistent with historical results from this type of treatment. The results of the PDT group, however, surprised researchers.

The 14 patients who received the alternative treatment underwent a less extensive “lung sparing” surgical procedure, which involved the removal of a limited amount of lung tissue. This procedure was combined with PDT, which uses light both to diminish the disease and to stimulate the immune system. PDT, which stops at the tissue itself, is also much less invasive than radiation, which penetrates the entire body. The results of this approach far exceeded the expectations of researchers. In fact, two years after the study began, the median survival rate of this group of patients has not been reached.

The Penn Mesothelioma and Pleural Program continues to study these and other methods, offering a truly multidisciplinary approach to the study of mesothelioma, mesothelioma treatment and mesothelioma therapy.

 

Asbestos, Mesothelioma and the EPA

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

In 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created by an act of Congress to protect the air, land, and water of the United States.  Since then, the responsibilities of the EPA have expanded to include the protection of US citizens from environmental contaminants. One such contaminate is asbestos, a fibrous mineral linked to Mesothelioma and lung cancer. The EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), have together created regulations and guidelines to promote safe handling of asbestos and asbestos disposal in industries and homes.

The EPA is responsible for enforcing two laws that impact the uses of asbestos—the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Nation Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Asbestos (Section 112 of the CAA) identifies who is required to notify local and state agencies prior to demolition, and in some cases, obtain certification and licensing. This is because disturbing materials that contain asbestos may be more dangerous than leaving them alone, as certain types of asbestos only become “friable” (or airborne) when disturbed.

The TSCA addresses both the regulation of asbestos contamination in public and private schools, and the requirements regarding the use of accredited inspectors and abatement contractors when addressing asbestos remediation in schools, and public or commercial buildings.

In addition to the regulation of asbestos use, abatement and remediation, the EPA provides information to the public on the dangers or asbestos and the proper handling of it. For more on asbestos, mesothelioma-linked materials and asbestos-related health infirmities like Mesothelioma, check out the EPA asbestos webpage.  For more information from the EPA about what to do if you think you might have asbestos in your home, click here.  To find out if your state has training and certification programs for asbestos abatement contractors, call the TSCA Assistance HotLine at (202) 554-1404.

 

 

File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Mesothelioma is a very challenging disease. Not only does the disease cause pain and suffering, it also can leave families in financial stress. By the time most people who have mesothelioma are diagnosed, the large majority is either retired or unable to work due to symptoms of the disease. Many mesothelioma victims are therefore left dealing with a lack of income combined with high medical bills, and many face the additional challenge of having no health insurance. As a result, many victims of mesothelioma seek legal settlements to take care of these expenses.

When considering pressing a legal suit against a company that made or handled asbestos products unsafely, many people question their right to legal compensation. Public knowledge of the dangers of asbestos has existed for hundreds of years, becoming very well publicized in the US in the 1920’s and 30’s. Unfortunately, the industries affected by mesothelioma include many companies who chose not to protect their workers, despite these risks. As a result, in many cases, mesothelioma victim’s rights also include legal compensation.

Many mesothelioma victims have never engaged in a legal suit. When seeking legal assistance, there are a few guidelines that will help greatly. When selecting a lawyer, make sure that the lawyer you are talking to will be the one handling your case, and not handing your case off to someone else. Be sure to check the lawyer’s track record with similar mesothelioma cases to confirm that they are consistently successful with this type of case. Also, the location in which you file your case can make a difference in the result. While some state laws are generally supportive of victims’ rights to compensation, others can be very restrictive.

A concern for many families when considering a law suit is whether they can handles the physical stress of legal appointments and court appearances. Fortunately, most lawyers who are experienced in these types of cases are very sensitive to the needs of victims and their families, and do their best to handle most things by phone. For more information about your legal rights, please contact us at 1-888-370-0121, or complete our online form.