Posts Tagged ‘asbestos exposure’

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.

Caring for Someone With Mesothelioma

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When a loved one chooses to be a caregiver for another member of the family who is ill, it is often with great love and commitment that they make that choice. But providing care for someone who has mesothelioma can be a very challenging role to play. In addition to taking on activities such as scheduling mesothelioma treatment appointments, managing medications, and assisting with daily routines, you may also be needed as a source of comfort and listening, even when the victim is experiencing grief and anger. Many caregivers report experiencing overwhelm and even burnout. If you are planning to be a primary caregiver for someone who has mesothelioma, here are a few suggestions that may make your experience more manageable.

First, keep in mind that maintaining your own health is critical to providing consistent and thoughtful care to someone who has mesothelioma. Setting up your schedule to include regular meals, quality sleep, and sufficient breaks can help alleviate stress. Stress-reducing activities such as exercise, reading or prayer and meditation may also prove to be very helpful. Planning for these activities may involve hiring outside help, but the benefits of renewed energy and a refreshed outlook will make the expense well worth it.

On the subject of getting help, you may want to consider lining up one or more backup caregiver. It’s very helpful to have someone who can step in the case that you are sick or have an urgent personal matter to attend to. It also makes a difference to have someone else take over for extended periods of time so that you can have time to restore and to handle personal matters that can fall to the wayside when caring for another.

While caring for your loved one, you may have questions about mesothelioma or mesothelioma victims rights. With the combined effects of lost income, the cost of treatment, and other expenses, caring for someone with mesothelioma can become a financial burden for many families. You may want to find out whether you qualify for certain programs. For example, some insurance companies reimburse caregivers and even such things as housecleaning or other assistance. Joining a support group may also be very helpful. Taking the time to explore these resources can save time and money, as well as help maintain your health and well-being.

Friability and Asbestos

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, uses of asbestos in home construction was common. Because of its high tensile strength and resistant properties, thousands of asbestos products have been used widely in the construction industry, especially during this time period. As more and more of these homes are being renovated, the risk of exposure to asbestos is a reality that construction workers, homeowners and do-it-yourselfers should be aware of. Preventing exposure during asbestos disposal begins with understanding the difference between friable and non-friable asbestos.

When asbestos is friable, it exists in a form that can easily be broken into pieces, releasing fibers into the air. Acoustical plaster, asbestos paper, pipe coverings, insulation, and asbestos -containing patching compounds are all examples of friable asbestos. Non-friable asbestos, on the other hand, are not easy to break, and as a result, the asbestos fibers are less likely to be released into the air. When left undisturbed, non-friable asbestos may not endanger human health. That’s why asbestos experts advise that certain asbestos containing materials be left alone when remodeling rather than being removed. Examples of non-friable asbestos products include roofing felt, asbestos cement, vinyl flooring, and base flashing.

The EPA identifies two categories of non-friable asbestos. Category 1 non-friable have a binding material that locks the fibers together, and are therefore not likely to become friable. Category 2 non-friable materials, though, are more subject to damage by frequent use and natural deterioration over time. Category 2 non-friable materials are more likely to become friable due to weathering conditions. However, circumstances can also influence whether an asbestos-containing material can become friable during demolition or construction. These factors involve methods of ventilation, demolition and asbestos disposal, as well as how the material itself was made.  The EPA website has guidelines for how to address both  friable and non-friable materials. For more information about asbestos and mesothelioma, visit Mesothelioma FAQ

 

Asbestos: More Prevalent Than You Think

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Given the overwhelming evidence of asbestos’ harmfulness to human health and its connection to the deadly disease mesothelioma, many United States citizens are under the impression that by now, asbestos has been phased out of most domestically-produced materials. However, many people are not aware that the 1989 EPA ban on many asbestos products was successful appealed and radically altered in 1991 by the U.S. Fifth Court of Appeals.

According to the EPA on this webpage, “Newspaper and magazine articles, Internet information, and currently available (but outdated) documents from the EPA and other federal agencies may contain incorrect statements about an EPA asbestos ban.” As a result, many products produced or imported for use in the U.S. construction industry may still contain asbestos.

So what materials are banned in the U.S.? The Clean Air Act bans the use of most sprayed-on asbestos containing materials using more than 1% asbestos. It also bans preformed and wet-applied asbestos pipe insulation. The Toxic Substances Control Act also bans corrugated paper, commercial paper, rollboard, specialty paper, flooring felt, and any new uses of asbestos. There are many products, however, that were originally scheduled to be phased out by 2008, are no longer banned under TSCA. These include certain asbestos cement materials, asbestos clothing, asbestos transmission materials, roofing felt and roof coatings. The EPA throughly addresses these matters and more in the document entitled, “Asbestos Strategies: Lessons Learned About Managerment and Use of Asbestos,” published in 2003.

And how much asbestos is being used annually in the U.S.? Well, according to the EPA, in 2001, the U. S. imported roughly 13,100 metric tons of asbestos, mostly from Canada. According to one of the report’s graphs showing the uses of asbestos in 2001, the large majority (9,250 metric tons) of asbestos is used in roofing products. This is followed by 2300 tons used in gaskets. Friction products, coatings, compounds, and other products incorporate the remaining 1/20 of uses of asbestos in 2001.

When it comes to the EPA and mesothelioma, the EPA makes clear some troubling factors. First, they note that asbestos is perhaps the most well-researched toxic substance. Second, they admit that not only are the current restrictions likely not sufficient to adequately protect the health of workers and consumers exposed to asbestos, but also the current enforcement of the existing ban is also insufficient. In their clarification of the asbestos ban and phase-out, the EPA advises, “The EPA does NOT track the manufacture, processing, or distribution in commerce of asbestos-containing products. It would be prudent for a consumer or other buyer to inquire as to the presence of asbestos in particular products.” We will be looking further into this topic in future blogs.

Mesothelioma Legal Help: Part 1

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Mesothelioma can be a devastating disease. Typically linked to exposure during uses of asbestos, this rare type of cancer affects the pleural membrane surrounding the lungs or the lining of the abdomen. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that has been used for thousands of years in a variety of materials, when disturbed, can become airborne and find its way into the mesothelium lining the lungs or stomach. Once there, asbestos can irritate this lining, resulting in the development of cancerous tissue. Because mesothelioma has an unusually long latency period of 10 to 50 years, many of the people who develop mesothelioma were exposed decades prior. Characterized by shortness of breath and a persistent cough, once diagnosed, mesothlioma is typically a rapidly progressing disease.

In addition to causing pain and suffering, mesothelioma causes economic hardship for victims and their families. People who develop mesothelioma are often retired and on a limited income, making proper health care and other experiences very challenging on victims and their families. And for people who are still working, mesotheiloma may well leave them physically unable to fulfill on their job requirements, leading to loss of income and additional stressors. At the same time that so many mesothelioma victims become unable to work, they also face staggering medical bills from things like mesothelioma treatment. The experience can be more than challenging, and many families, already dealing with these hardships and their own grief, just need someone to help them find much needed financial assistance.

Many mesothelioma victims and their families find it necessary to turn to the court system to obtain the funds necessary to pay for their extremely high expenses and also to provide much needed assistance to their families in this time of great need. Next week, we will explore that role that an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can play in assisting with this process and helping you understand mesothelioma victim’s rights.

 

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.

Mesothelioma Treatment: Nutrition

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

When undergoing treatment for mesothelioma, nutrition can play a vital role in the outcome of and the quality of life during treatment. Eating foods high in protein, along with fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help prepare the body for the stress of treatments. Unfortunately, mesothelioma patients commonly experience a loss of appetite during mesothelioma treatment due to effects of chemotherapy or the disease itself.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), certain practices can aid in this process. Because tastebuds often change during chemotherapy, foods may lose their former appeal or even become unpleasant. To avoid a loss of nutrients, the ACS suggests trying alternative foods such as plant-based foods like peas and beans that may be more palatable. Limiting certain foods and beverages, such as alcohol and pickled and cured foods, can help as well. The ACS also recommends eating five colorful servings of fruits and vegetables each day, including dark green and deep yellow vegetables, as these contain phytochemicals that are very beneficial nutrients. In addition, maintaining as much physical acidity as possible will aid in overall health and well-being. Finally, cooking large meals and storing plenty of food in the pantry and freezer will help reduce overall work and stress sometimes involved in meal preparation.

Seeking support can also make a big difference. Among the various mesothelioma and asbestos resources, nutritionists can be very helpful for patients who are going through mesothelioma therapy. Nutritionists can help design a specific plan to help prevent malnutrition and muscle and bone wasting. A good nutrition plan may also help patients handle aggressive treatments, fight infection, and maintain the strength and energy needed for a better quality of life during and after treatment. Finally, a support structure of friends and neighbors can be vital to implementing a nutrition plan. If you or someone you love has mesothelioma, don’t be afraid to ask for support for assistance with tasks like shopping and meal preparation. This can provide a way for people who care to offer much needed support.

 

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.

 

Chrysotile Asbestos and Vermiculite

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

In recent years, Do-It-Yourself home improvement projects have become more popular. Homeowners are using the Internet to educate themselves on how to do anything from electrical work and small plumbing projects to drywall repair. Unfortunately, many homeowners are unaware of the potential risks of exposure to asbestos. While some homes today do contain some asbestos, little attention is given to the potential dangers because undisturbed, asbestos-linked materials may pose little or no risk to health.

According to the EPA, 70% of all vermiculite sold in the US between 1919 and 1990 came from a mine in Libby, Montana, which was later discovered to be contaminated with asbestos. When tearing down walls or working in the attic, disturbing vermiculite insulation may result in exposure to asbestos. If you have a question about whether your insulation is vermiculite, visit the EPA’s website on vermiculite, where they have photos showing the various forms of vermiculite insulation.

Some older homes contain vinyl floor tiles, which also contain chrysotile asbestos. When left alone, this form of asbestos poses little risk, because it is sealed inside the mastic, or adhesive matrix. However, when these vinyl floor tiles are removed without proper precautions, asbestos may be released into the air. When taking on a DIY project that involves the use of mesothelioma-linked materials, it is also important to consider asbestos disposal.

There are, in fact, many uses of asbestos in construction materials. Asbestos is still used as an additive to some cement mixes, as well as certain roofing tiles. With DIY projects on the rise, people working in older homes may inadvertently damage an asbestos-containing material. For that reason, it is critical that all DIY projects start with research and planning. If you have any questions about mesothelioma or the uses of asbestos, visit our mesothelioma and asbestos FAQ page.

 

New Chemotherapy Combination

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

In recent years, several clinical trials have shown promising results for the detection and prevention of mesothelioma. Here we will review these treatments and their potential effectiveness.

Chemotherapy is one form of mesothelioma treatment. To date, only one chemotherapy treatment (the combination of Alimta and Cislatin), has gained FDA approval. But new medications on the horizon may bring some good news to mesothelioma patients. A new drug, Onconase, may be one of the very first stem cell medications to make it all the way through clinical trails. This drug has a low toxicity, and is designed to shrink and then eliminate mesothelioma tumors. The FDA has placed Onconase on a fast track for approval because of its potential for helping mesothelioma patients. Yet another promising drug currently in clinical trails is Veglin. Veglin works by stabilizing and shrinking tumors. This drug is currently being tested on patients at the Keck School of Medicine at The University of California.

In addition to chemotherapies, other therapies are showing promise as well. Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy is now being used across the country. This type of radiation is more precise in its delivery, making the treatment potentially more effective. There are also gene therapies under trial that reportedly use genetically modified viruses to stimulate the immune system to kill cancer cells. And photodynamic therapy uses light to kill cancer cells.

When it comes to mesothelioma prevention and early detection, breakthroughs are happening in that area as well. The Fujirebo Diagnostics test, still under research, is the first biomarker test to use a simple blood screen to detect the presence of biomarkers for mesothelioma. Early diagnosis of mesothelioma is important for providing effective treatment, yet it is also a rare occurrence, as most mesothelioma patients do not notice their symptoms until it is too late.

While these research trials show great promise, it may be years before the treatments become available to the public. This is because the approval process is designed to ensure that patients are kept safe from dangerous side effects and that the effectiveness of the drug is proven.

If you would like more information on mesothelioma, its causes, or treatments, you are welcome to review our mesothelioma articles. If you feel we could be of assistance, please complete our online form, and we will be contact with you as soon as possible.