Posts Tagged ‘asbestos cancer’

Resources for Mesothelioma

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When facing a diagnosis of mesothelioma, knowing where to turn for information and support can make an enormous difference. While there may be local agencies in your area that provide support related to asbestos exposure or mesothelioma, it is important to understand the role and resources provided by the following agencies.

The EPA

Founded in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exists to safeguard our nation’s water, air and land. The EPA website contains a wealth of information about the uses of asbestos, laws and regulations regarding asbestos, and guidelines for asbestos disposal.

OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the government agency responsible for promoting workplace safety in order to prevent work-related illness and injury. This branch of the Department of Labor creates regulations and standards for workplace safety. On the OSHA website, you will find information about the industries affected by mesothelioma, the safe handling of asbestos and other useful information and resources.

The NCI

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the national agency responsible for promoting cancer research, development and training through funding and awareness. The NCI website has information about how asbestos is linked to mesothelioma and the available treatments and therapeutic approaches to mesothelioma (both traditional and cutting edge). The site also has a comprehensive list of resources.

The NIOSH

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) operates to promote research, education and training related to workplace health and safety. On the NIOSH website, you can find numerous articles on the risks and prevention of mesothelioma.

The ATSDR

The purpose of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is to protect the public from environmental hazard. The ATSDR website approaches asbestos and mesothelioma from a public health perspective, with a great overview of asbestos exposure and it’s risks.

Making effective choices begins with being fully informed. For more information about mesothelioma victims rights, click the previous link or fill out our online form.

Breakthrough Mesothelioma Case

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

On February 13, 2012, the Italian court announced a verdict that may have an impact on people and families around the world who are dealing with mesothelioma. Billionaires Stephan Schidheiny and Jean-Louis de Cartier, key shareholders in the company Eternit, a producer of fiber-reinforced cement, were each sentenced to sixteen years in prison for the failure to comply with safety regulations in their factories’ uses of asbestos. This class action law suit is being touted as the most significant suit yet, because criminal charges were actually placed on the owners who benefited from the profits of the negligent factories.

Invented in the late 19th century, fiber-reinforced cement products, generally containing a mixture of cement and asbestos, has been favored in construction for it’s relatively light weight along with its resistance to fire and water. Production of this material has reduced significantly since the public has been aware of the risks of exposure to friable asbestos.

Prosecutors in the Eternit case claimed that at least 1,800 people died as a result of asbestos-related diseases in the town of Casale Monferrato, where the largest of the company’s factories was located. According to some reports, the company conducted its asbestos disposal in the open, releasing clouds of friable asbestos into the air to settle and collect on the town’s streets. They also gave left-over asbestos to families to use at home. When evidence of the dangers of asbestos began to surface, the company apparently concealed it and continued harmful practices, intending to protect the company profits.

In addition to facing criminal charges, Schidheiny and de Cartier were ordered to pay €95 million (about $126 million US dollars) to families of the victims, as well as large sums to other entities and organizations, including trade unions and the town of Casale. This is a clear victory for asbestos awareness groups and advocates of mesothelioma victim’s rights.

One of the biggest challenges facing groups dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos is the inconsistency among trading nations in their asbestos laws and regulations. Many workers rights groups, environmental advocates, and asbestos awareness groups are hoping this case will have positive global impact on this issue.

 

Asbestos in the Drinking Water?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

When reading material about the uses of asbestos and mesothelioma-linked materials, you will mostly encounter facts about asbestos in the environment that can become airborne and lead to mesothelioma. However, largely because of the decay of cement water mains and the erosion of natural deposits, asbestos can also contaminate drinking water. Water suppliers are required by law to conduct routine monitoring to make sure that water levels are below the maximum contaminant level (MCL). According to the EPA, the MCL for asbestos in drinking water is 7 MFL. While MFL is not defined in the Basic Information about Asbestos in Drinking Water on the EPA website, the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, as printed in the EPA publication, “Water On Tap: What You Need to Know,” define MFL as millions of fibers per liter. This document, updated in 2003, identifies the risk of developing benign intestinal polyps.

In Asbestos in Drinking-water, the Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality the World Health Organization reports that most of the US population consumes drinking water with a concentration lower than 1 MFL. Research studying the effects of ingesting asbestos have yet to show a significant risk of cancer from ingesting asbestos. At the same time, the scientific community is concerned about possible risks and continues to research the area.

The EPA recommends finding out about your local source for drinking water. Numbers to call will appear on your water bill or telephone book’s government listings. If you contact your water utility company, they can provide you with a copy of the required annual consumer confidence report or water quality report that will give you information about the quality of water in your area. If your water supply is private, the EPA recommends that you contact the nearest community water system. For more information about asbestos and mesothelioma, please complete our online form.

Asbestos Exposure: Who Is At Risk?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

It is quite possible that virtually everyone will be exposed to asbestos at some point in their lifetime. Even if a person never encountered asbestos-containing materials, asbestos is present in our environment in very low levels. Nonetheless, most people will not develop an asbestos-related disease from this kind of exposure.

According to the National Cancer Institute, certain people are at a much higher risk for asbestos exposure and therefore asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. These diseases pose a greater threat to people who encounter asbestos regularly or who are exposed to extreme levels, such as the rescue workers and volunteers helping in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The collapse of the World Trade Center North Tower released several tons of asbestos into the air, potentially affecting thousands at the site and surrounding areas. This, of course, is an extreme example of acute environmental exposure. Most cases of asbestos-related disease are linked to certain industries affected by mesothelioma.

Because the risk of exposure often does not surface until many years later, the current list of high-risk jobs is different than those of the past. Obviously, workers who mine asbestos or mesothelioma linked materials that may be contaminated with asbestos are at a great risk, as well as those who work in asbestos product manufacturing.

Additionally, workers involved in the construction business are at a higher risk of ongoing exposure to asbestos-containing materials in older homes. Activities involving demolition, wall removal, popcorn ceiling removal and work in the attic, can bring a worker in contact with asbestos-containing materials. Firefighters exposed to demolished homes may also run a high risk for repeated exposure. Auto-mechanics involved with brake repair can be at risk for asbestos contact. Some studies have shown that family members of these workers can also be affected, as their loved ones bring asbestos fibers into the home on their clothes. Proximity to asbestos mines may also be a factor. There have been cases of people living near mines developing asbestos-related diseases when they had no other known source of exposure.

Government regulations have come a long way in protecting workers’ health against asbestos exposure. Yet, the potential for exposure is still very real, and the degree to which proper safety precautions are followed on the job may make all the difference in the frequency and severity of the exposure.

Certain factors can affect one’s risk of developing an asbestos-related illness. Studies have indicated that the effects of smoking and asbestos exposure combined may be far more deadly than they are separately. Also, the type of fiber, dose, duration and individual health may alter a person’s risk of developing these diseases.

If you would like to know more about asbestos and asbestos-related diseases, please visit our Mesothelioma and Asbestos FAQ or read our Mesothelioma articles.

 

The Largest Asbestos Settlement Ever

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

In a recent landmark decision, a Mississippi jury awarded the highest-ever settlement in the history of asbestos related injury cases and mesothelioma settlements. Thomas Brown, Jr., a 48-year-old oil field worker, was awarded $322 million for suffering, expenses and punitive damages. The defendants in the case, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Union Carbide Corporation, allegedly continued putting workers at risk even after the dangers of asbestos exposure were well known.

Brown, working in the oil fields for several years in the 1970’s and 80’s, claims he inhaled asbestos dust on a regular basis when mixing drilling mud that was sold by Chevron Phillips Chemical and manufactured by Union Carbide. He has since developed a serious condition known as asbestosis, a disease that causes lung scarring and may become worse with time. Brown requires oxygen 24 hours a day, limiting his mobility and ability to work. Apparently at issue was Brown’s inability to read the warning labels and signs posted by the company. The companies’ spokespeople vehemently denied the claims and stated that there were plans for an appeal.

Regardless of the eventual outcome of this particular case, the large settlement may send a strong message to companies who are not keenly focused on the health and safety of workers. Prior to this case, the largest settlement, in an amount over $200 million, resulted from a class-action suit that took place in Illinois. The next highest settlement occurred in March of this year, when $90 million was awarded to Charles Gillenwater. Since the first asbestos-related injury case in 1929, hundreds of thousands of people have filed lawsuits against thousands of defendants. But this is the largest known settlement to date.  For more information about victim’s rights, visit our page on mesothelioma victim’s rights.

According to the EPA, exposure to asbestos can be a cause of mesothelioma or lead to other cancers or asbestosis, as in Brown’s case. Exposure to asbestos can be particularly dangerous because of the long latency period of the diseases associated with asbestos exposure. A worker may expose themselves repeatedly for years before any symptoms arise. Once symptoms do arise, for many people the diagnosis is unfortunately terminal. Our mesothelioma articles provide useful information to anyone interested in finding out more about mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.

 

Alimta and Ionizing Radiation Therapy

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for certain types of cancer today. For sufferers of mesothelioma, these treatments are just two of the methods that may help prolong the life of the patient. When cancers such as mesothelioma are diagnosed, chemotherapy or radiation — or combinations of both — are two potential options for treatment of this deadly cancer. But, what are chemo and radiation therapies, and how do they work? Are they effective? And what are their side effects, if any?

Chemotherapy, in essence, is the use of chemical drugs to target and kill cancer cells, decrease the size of tumors or reduce the spread of malignant cells to other parts of the human body. However, with over 100 different types of chemicals in use and diverse procedures for their use, chemotherapy is often a complex subject to understand. One such chemotherapy drug, Alimta, may be a feasible treatment, as the FDA approved it for specific treatment of mesothelioma. Certain combinations of chemotherapy drugs have shown positive results in some mesothelioma patients, potentially prolonging survival.

Radiation therapy is another treatment method for mesothelioma. Radiation therapy — sometimes called radiotherapy — uses low doses of ionizing radiation as a mesothelioma treatment option to help target and control cancer cells or reduce their spread. In some cases, radiation therapy may also be combined with chemotherapy, and this method might be used to lessen painful symptoms resulting from mesothelioma cancer.

However, both radiation and chemotherapy can possibly result in some unpleasant side effects such as fatigue, pain and nausea. These side effects could differ depending on the patient and the location, type and duration of treatments. Certain diets and medications prescribed by a doctor may aid in minimizing selected side effects, and there are cases where patients do not experience any side effects at all. While these mesothelioma treatment options may prove effective in possibly prolonging life, there remains no known cure for mesothelioma.

What Are Mesothelioma and Cancer?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

What is mesothelioma, and how does it occur? It’s an all-too-common question, with innumerable answers that may lead to even more questions. The human body is a complex and vulnerable system which can be affected by everything from genetics to our environment. At the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Information Exchange, we try to shed some light on these questions in order to better inform you.

Cancer can occur as a result of impairment of the DNA in human cells. Our bodies are made up an untold number of living cells, from receptor and blood cells to hair cells. Different cells perform different functions in the human body and the majority of cells have DNA. Human cells naturally produce, repair, grow, multiply and die, where new cells take the place of dying ones. With cancer, the altered or impaired DNA and cell do not expire; instead, they continue to multiply with new cells also containing the altered and impaired DNA. While researchers know that some cancer is a result of hereditary or environmental causes, in other cases, the cause isn’t always clear. Furthermore, different types of cancers operate differently. Some cancers may spread, while others do not. The technical name for the spread of cancer to other parts of the human body is metastasis.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer, which, is a result of impaired cells called mesothelium cells. These mesothelium cells act and behave somewhat like oil in a car, lubricating various body cavities, particularly the thoracic cavity surrounding the lungs. The cancer, as a result of damage to these cells, may result from exposure to asbestos particles. Sometimes, symptoms of the cancer do not appear until decades after exposure. This cancer is often discovered via chest x-ray, CT Scan or biopsy.  Mesothelioma treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Dispose of Asbestos Containing Materials

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring substance made from one of six silicate minerals, which have now been banned due to their link with many health complications, most notably mesothelioma.

Asbestos use has been traced back at least 4,500 years to Finland for strengthening earthenware pots and cooking utensils. The use of asbestos became commonplace between the turn of the 20th century and the late 1970s in industrial capacities. It was also used in brake pads until the mid-1990s.

There are four methods for asbestos disposal; the EPA suggests all methods should be performed by a properly-licensed asbestos abatement company, and any intact asbestos not be touched. Knowing whether a product contains asbestos is not easy unless it’s properly labeled.

The most dangerous method of asbestos removal is dry stripping.  This involves simply removing the asbestos without any amount of moisture. While a simple method, dry stripping can produce a large amount of dust and may release toxins.

High-pressured water removal is a popular method, using the water to force the asbestos away from the people doing the removal. This method is usually reserved for industrial spaces that are hard to reach.

A technique for home asbestos removal is controlled wet stripping, performed by injecting warm water into asbestos with specialized needles. This effectively weighs down the material, which also helps control the amount of dust released.

Another asbestos-removal method is hot stripping. This technique includes the use of a ventilation system along with hot air. By blowing the asbestos fibers with the hot air, any residue can be directed toward a powerful ventilation system.

However, in some cases asbestos material is not removed, but rather encased.

In many countries, asbestos is typically disposed of as hazardous waste in landfill sites. In the United States, OSHA regulations require a sign stating that the hazardous waste or landfill site contains asbestos.

For more information check out our Mesothelioma articles on the laws and regulations concerning asbestos materials.

 

 

Mesothelioma Tumor Grade

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Recent findings about the survival rate of victims suffering from mesothelioma have recently been published, according to a mesothelioma report found on SurvivingMesothelioma.com.  Though the news, unlike many studies and findings recounted in this space, doesn’t directly point toward a new treatment method or combination of approaches for mesothelioma treatment, it does represent an increased level of understanding of how the cancer responds to certain treatments.

The report suggests that victims of malignant pleural mesothelioma were more likely to survive after a diagnosis if they received cancer-directed surgery as part of mesothelioma treatment efforts.  Another important factor is the “grade” of the tumor cells.  The grade refers to its similarity to nearby cells.  According to the report, it appears that the more similar a cancer cell is to its surrounding cells, the higher the survival rate of those afflicted with the disease.

This is good news, and not just because the results of this study might show that patients receiving certain treatments may have higher rates of survival than others.  This is also good news because it means there are signs of progress of a sort within the field of mesothelioma treatment, an area of study that doesn’t quite attract the level of investment as other battles against more common forms of cancer.  Part of that research disparity might be due to the rarity of mesothelioma; after all, only somewhere between seven and 40 people per million in the United States contract the disease, compared to much higher rates for other, more common forms of cancer.

Just because it’s rare, however, doesn’t mean mesothelioma treatment shouldn’t be a concern.  After all, mesothelioma is an aggressive and lethal disease, and though there are treatments for it, there is, unfortunately, no cure.  The survival rate of patients suffering from mesothelioma is often measured in mere months.

Finding a Mesothelioma Lawyer

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Finding a mesothelioma lawyer does not have to be difficult. There are many out there, but you want to make sure that the one you hire is experienced, knowledgeable and has a proven history of successfully handling mesothelioma lawsuits and settlements. One concern of many mesothelioma victims and their families is that a mesothelioma lawyer is too expensive to hire. This isn’t necessarily true, as many work on a contingency fee basis, meaning any money received by the lawyer must come from the settlement or verdict obtained in the case. Forty percent of the total amount recovered is the standard fee in mesothelioma cases. While some lawyers may charge less than this, keep in mind the saying “You get what you pay for.”

Mesothelioma is a very serious matter. And because it is caused by asbestos exposure, it is important for victims to seek legal help. Companies that made and sold asbestos products knew of its dangers as early as the 1890s, and even though knowledge existed that asbestos was a deadly poison, asbestos companies continued to place a higher value on its profits instead of on human life. For this reason, workers in many industries like the shipbuilding and automotive industries, for example, suffered asbestos exposure, which can lead to mesothelioma. There is no cure for mesothelioma.

What can make the process of finding a mesothelioma lawyer a bit easier is if you get a referral from a friend or family member. If this is not possible, you can ask the mesothelioma lawyer you’re considering for referrals and his or her history of handling cases and settlements.

When meeting with a mesothelioma lawyer, don’t be afraid to ask questions. For example, how long have they been handling similar cases? What were the outcomes of the other mesothelioma cases they have handled? Will they be handling your case, or will another lawyer in the firm be assigned your case?

Ultimately, you should be confident that the mesothelioma lawyer you hire has what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve. He or she should be able to handle the case as quickly as possible so that you can focus on your health and your family. To speak with a resource person about mesothelioma, please call 1-888-370-0121.