Posts Tagged ‘asbestos in the workplace’

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.

 

Mesothelioma Settlements

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Mesothelioma treatment has shown progress in recent years, including methods that may help extend life expectancy. Although there has been overall improvement in the treatment of mesothelioma, sadly, there is no cure for this devastating disease. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery comprise the most common treatments for mesothelioma. While none of these has resulted in a cure, the most effective treatment for lengthening life expectancy is pneumonectomy. Pneumonectomy involves the removal or a lung or part of a lung along with intensive chemotherapy.

As cancers go, the incidence of mesothelioma is comparatively rare. This fact comes with both benefits and disadvantages. Although this reduces the likelihood of any one individual contracting mesothelioma, the rarity of the disease has also led to fewer research dollars and a generally slow progress towards effective long-term treatment. Many people, however, have found assistance through Mesothelioma settlements.

One key factor in the history of asbestos and mesothelioma settlements is the degree to which major industries knew of the risk to their workers. A study at Harvard University showed that the annual number of mesothelioma cases among males in the U.S. neared its peak in 2000 and was expected to decline to approximately 500 cases per year by the year 2055. The heightened levels of exposure to asbestos in the 1930s through the 1960s coincided with in a spike in mesothelioma many years later. As various industries became aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure, their response to this risk varied. As a result, some industries took the measures needed to protect their workers, while others did not.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you might want to consider talking to a law firm that specializes in mesothelioma to find out whether you are entitled to mesothelioma settlements.  If you have questions, start by taking a look at our Mesothelioma FAQ, or simply contact us by filling out this online form or calling 800-723-3216.

 

Industries Exposed to Asbestos

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

In the recent past, concern about exposure to asbestos has increased, along with the rise in known incidents of asbestosis, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Statistics have shown that past (and in some cases, current) employment in certain industries has come with an increased risk of asbestos exposure.

Automotive

In the 1970’s, research showed a probable link between cancer and the use of asbestos in brake shoes, pads and clutch discs. Many automobile assembly workers, auto mechanics, brake repair experts and production workers were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis. Since the 1990’s, the majority of these products have been manufactured with materials that are currently considered non-carcinogenic. However, mechanics working on older model cars may still be exposed to asbestos. The U.S. Department of Labor offers significant information on the history and handling of these and other mesothelioma-linked materials in high-risk industries.

Construction and Demolition

Before the mid-1970’s, asbestos was used in insulation around piping and boilers, as well as a strength-building additive in concrete slabs and pillars.  In even earlier decades, as far back as the 1930’s, asbestos was commonly sprayed onto materials, exposing workers to particles that could be easily inhaled.  While the use of asbestos has been banned in many applications, today, asbestos is still used in roofing tiles, slating and as an additive to cement. Construction and demolition workers may encounter asbestos when working with older materials or certain asbestos containing materials that have been damaged. High-risk jobs have included or may include bricklayers, drywall installers, inspectors, insulators, masonry workers, plumbers, construction workers, plasterers, roofers and other construction-related jobs.

Electrical

Because of potential exposure to insulation and other construction materials, linemen, powerhouse workers and electricians may be at a higher risk for asbestos exposure. In addition, electrical cloth, panel partitions and wiring could contain asbestos.

Shipyards

In World War II, shipyard workers were exposed to many tons of asbestos, as it was used to line boilers, wrap pipes and cover parts. As a result, U.S. Navy personnel, sailors, laggers, longshoremen and yard workers were commonly exposed to asbestos, resulting in higher-than-average rates of mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases in this group as well.

Aerospace

In the early 1980’s, the U.S. Navy began to shift from asbestos-containing materials to other materials. Prior to this change, asbestos was used in a variety Naval aircraft parts, including insulation and brake linings. Asbestos was released into the air during the installation and handling of insulation, as well as in the use and repair of brakes. Additionally, some epoxies and glues used in aircraft construction also contained asbestos. If the glue or epoxy was disturbed, the asbestos became airborne (or friable).

Other industries that have historically come in contact with asbestos include crane operators, manufacturers, machinists and asbestos textile mill workers. For more information, visit our mesothelioma articles, or our page on the history of asbestos.

 

Asbestos in Materials Today

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

It may be surprising to hear that asbestos is still used in some products today. Most types of asbestos have been banned since the 1970’s due to the potential connection to mesothelioma. However, one type of asbestos fiber, chrysotile, has been approved for use in some materials. In insulation and appliances, the fibers resist both heat and cold very effectively. Vinyl floor tiles are strengthened by chrysotile against damage such as scuffing and moisture.

While inhaling asbestos poses serious risks to one’s health, chrysotile fibers are generally considered the least dangerous type of asbestos. Research has shown that the fibers are harmless unless disturbed and released in significant quantities into the air. In addition, when these materials are manufactured, the fibers are sealed into the matrix of the material itself, which prevents chrysotile fibers from being released. Provided that the materials remain undisturbed and are not crumbling, there is no significant risk of exposure.

The EPA has very helpful information about asbestos removal do’s and don’ts. People considering asbestos disposal should consult a professional. Do not sand or tear such materials, as this can release the asbestos fibers. If it is suspected, after the fact, that asbestos containing materials have been disturbed, wet the material to prevent further dispersion of fibers. The EPA also advises not to use a household vacuum or broom to remove dust, as these will likely launch the fibers into the air. Trained professionals will use a special vacuum with a HEPA filter designed specially for this type of situation. If surfaces must be cleaned, use wet mops and sponges. A fine mist of water sprayed into the air may help settle dust as well.

Mesothelioma prevention starts with avoiding exposure. Whether remodeling a home built in the 1950’s — prior to asbestos bans — or handling more recent asbestos-containing materials, asbestos disposal professionals can be of great help. An asbestos abatement professional can assess the risk and recommend a method for handling materials and asbestos abatement. They will also have access to the proper equipment and materials necessary to protect people who might otherwise be exposed. Before working with contractors, making inquiries regarding experience levels and training with asbestos can help determine which contractor will take the necessary precautions.

If you think you have been exposed to asbestos, our Mesothelioma FAQ may be of assistance to you.

 

National Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

The United States House of Representatives has designated September 26th as National Mesothelioma Awareness Day.  The designation, which occurred due to the passage of H. Res. 771 (House Resolution), might make September 26th a day for elements of the federal government to mark the day with educational gestures.

The bill, which can be seen as a victory for those attempting to fight mesothelioma by raising awareness about its causes and effects, was introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum of Minnesota.  Her stated reason for doing so is as follows: “In 2000, my friend and predecessor Congressman Bruce Vento was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Despite decades of warnings about the dangers of asbestos, too many Americans are still unaware of the devastating nature of this disease.”

More information about this day can be found on this useful mesothelioma press release found on the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation site.

We’ve spent much time in this space attempting to detail how and why mesothelioma may be caused.  A one of the more common mesothelioma causes in the United States is asbestos exposure.  Asbestos exposure can occur for many reasons, but one typical cause is when one handles or comes into contact with this mineral in the workplace.  Another way many can be exposed is by living in a building constructed with materials containing asbestos.

For years, asbestos was a popular construction material for several reasons.  For one, it had excellent flame retardant and insulation properties, which made it an excellent product in buildings.  When mixed with concrete, it also simultaneously strengthened and lightened it, which reduced both labor and transportation costs.

Unfortunately, however, many workers who handled asbestos inhaled feathery fibers of the mineral.  These fibers can embed themselves in the lining of the lung, which, after a period of latency lasting anywhere from 10 to 50 years, can trigger the onset of mesothelioma symptoms.

Mesothelioma: Second-Hand Asbestos

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Mesothelioma is an insidious, devastating disease.  Primary mesothelioma causes include asbestos exposure, which has raised the rate of occurrence of the disease in the United States from around one per one million citizens to somewhere between seven and 40 per million.

That’s a large spike, and it has its roots in historical asbestos use in a variety of commercial contexts.  Uses of asbestos include insulation on ships and in buildings, among other things.  Asbestos, in its commercially applicable form, is very lightweight and almost feathery.  When disturbed, it’s possible for miniscule asbestos fibers to be inhaled, where they become embedded in the delicate pleural lining of the lungs.  Once inhaled, there’s a latency period that can last anywhere from 10 to 50 years before mesothelioma’s symptoms manifest themselves.

Inhalation (or ingestion) is the most common way asbestos gets inside the body, and coming in contact with asbestos fibers at work is a very common way victims come into contact with asbestos.  However, it’s not the only way.  Another circumstance for contact with asbestos can be via contact with someone who works with asbestos.  Since asbestos fibers are so light, they can alight on a worker’s clothing, who can then unwittingly carry the killer home with him or her.  Once those clothes are moved—say, by handling the clothes when washing them—it’s possible for the fibers on them to become disturbed, airborne, and inhaled.

It’s in this way that Julie Gundlach, a 39-year-old woman and St. Louis resident, claims that she contacted asbestos and subsequently contracted mesothelioma.  According to a mesothelioma article found on MesotheliomaCancerNews.com, Gundlach claims that her father used to work with asbestos in his workplace, and that is how she came in contact with the fibers that gave her this deadly cancer.

Her story is another tragic chapter in the long and sad history of mesothelioma.

Asbestos Exposure: Man Dies at 72

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

A recent article in the UK’s HemelToday talks about a builder who had worked with asbestos for at least 10 years. The man passed away in June at the age of 72. His job involved cutting up asbestos — asbestolux and corrugated sheets, specifically — in the 1960s. They note that the man’s job lead to “fairly substantial” asbestos exposure, as he would regularly come in contact with the material.

Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer with no cure. Mesothelioma attacks the lining of various body organs like the lungs. Often, mesothelioma victims experience tremendous grief, pain and suffering — and sometimes very high medical bills. It’s a lot for victims, along with their loved ones, to deal with.

The builder’s asbestos exposure wasn’t limited to that one job, though. In the 1970s, he worked for a timber works that also put him in a setting where he was exposed to asbestos. And it didn’t stop until people started to realize its dangers.

The coroner, Edward Thomas, was quoted in the article to say that because the man had “a number of medical problems,” he is “satisfied the cause of death was mesothelioma.”

Getting Help for Mesothelioma

If you or a loved one suffer from mesothelioma, know your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. To find out more information, don’t hesitate to call 1-888-370-0121.

Former Harrah’s Employee Files Asbestos Exposure Lawsuit

Friday, August 7th, 2009

A former employee of Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas says he is sick from asbestos exposure while on the job. His three-year-old son is suffering as well — his father says what’s in the boy’s lungs makes him have trouble breathing. The man is suing the resort for $10 million.

Asbestos exposure while on the job can be extremely dangerous, and it can result in Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that attacks the lining of various organs and areas of the body such as the heart, lungs and abdomen. There is currently no cure for Mesothelioma. Victims have to deal with economic hardship along with pain and suffering.

Used for many years in thousands of different products, Asbestos is a mineral that, when disturbed, releases tiny fibers that travel deep into the lungs when inhaled. In the lungs, these fibers can cause scarring, called asbestosis. Asbestos fibers can cause Mesothelioma along with lung, colon and larynx cancer. Damage caused by asbestos dust happens over many years, which explains why Mesothelioma and asbestosis are called progressive diseases.

According to a news story from Fox 5 Vegas, OSHA had warned Harrah’s about the dangers — a dozen serious violations involving asbestos are shown on inspection reports. The man filing the lawsuit said he thinks what made his son sick is that he brought the asbestos fibers home with him from work, probably on his clothing. He said in the story that every employee was affected, from housekeeping workers to cocktail waitresses to the customers, when they didn’t do the asbestos abatement.

Getting Help After Asbestos Exposure

If you’ve experienced asbestos exposure, it’s important to get help. If you have Mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. Hiring a qualified, experienced Mesothelioma lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve. To speak with someone and find out more, don’t hesitate to call 1-888-370-0121.

Asbestos Insulation and Materials

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Mesothelioma can be linked to several building materials, as asbestos was commonly used in office, school and home construction from the early 1900s until 1978. Asbestos was used for insulation purposes mostly, but it had other construction uses as well such as in roofing and siding, floors, walls, ceilings, pipes and boilers.

Commonly called “asbestos cancer” due to the fact that asbestos exposure is the leading cause of it, Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. There is no cure for Mesothelioma. It attacks the lining of various body areas and organs such as the abdomen, heart and lungs.

Roofing and siding materials — roofing tiles, siding shingles, clapboards and shingles — are linked to Mesothelioma because, typically, roofing tiles and shingles were made using “white asbestos,” or chrysotile, which is about 25% asbestos. In ceiling and wall construction, asbestos was used as a sprayed on or troweled coating until 1978. Considered very hazardous, this form of asbestos is actually classified by the Occupational Safety and Health Association as a Class I or Class II work hazard. As for pipes and boilers, the use of asbestos was for preventing heat diffusion and improving energy efficiency.

There are other building materials linked to Mesothelioma as well, like cloth and blankets for welding and pipe insulation. Asbestos was also used in ship building and in cars as a lining for clutches and brakes.

There are many materials linked to Mesothelioma. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos and are suffering Mesothelioma, don’t hesitate to seek legal help to get the compensation you deserve for your suffering. To find out more information, call 1-888-370-0121.

Industries Affected By Mesothelioma

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the lining of various organs and body areas like the heart, abdomen and lungs. It is sometimes called “asbestos cancer” due to asbestos exposure being the overwhelming cause of Mesothelioma in the United States. There is no known cure for Mesothelioma.

Due to asbestos being a mineral that was used in thousands of products, from floor tiles to household appliances, for many years, several industries have been affected by it. Workers in industries (like ship building, construction and others) that used these products may have been exposed to asbestos. When disturbed, asbestos releases tiny fibers that, when inhaled, travel deep into the lungs and cause scarring (asbestosis). Besides causing Mesothelioma, exposure to these asbestos fibers can also cause colon cancer, lung cancer and larynx cancer.

The Ship Building Industry and Mesothelioma

During WWII was the peak of asbestos use in the ship building industry, since the demand for ships was at an all-time high. Commonly used to insulate engines, pipes, gaskets and boilers to prevent heat gain or loss, asbestos was lightweight and therefore quite useful in ships.

The Construction Industry and Mesothelioma

Commonly used as insulation (both general and around piping and boilers) or to increase the tensile strength of concrete pillars and slabs, asbestos was used in building construction up until the mid-1970s. Workers were exposed to airborne, easily-inhaled asbestos particles from the Great Depression until the 1970s since asbestos was commonly applied in spray form. But even today, asbestos is still commonly used as a strengthening additive in cement as well as in slating, tile and roofing.

The General Industry and Mesothelioma

Auto repair shops, especially ones that specialize in brake in clutch repair, are the most common example of general industry asbestos exposure. This is due to asbestos being used for decades in break drums, clutches and break pads. So when brakes and clutches are being repaired, there is a risk for Mesothelioma.

If you are a Mesothelioma victim, or if you’re the loved one of a Mesothelioma victim, you may want to consider seeking legal help to get the compensation you deserve for your suffering. To find out more about industries affected by Mesothelioma, call 1-888-370-0121.