Posts Tagged ‘asbestos’

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.

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.

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 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.

 

Veterans With Mesothelioma

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

United States veterans have sacrificed a great deal so that the citizens of our country could continue to have the quality of life we often take for granted. The collective heroism, bravery, risk and sacrifice of this group are extraordinary. Sadly, it is this group that are also most affected by mesothelioma. That’s because for many years, the U.S. Military used asbestos widely in many applications. Likely as a result of this high level of exposure, veterans make up roughly 30% of all mesothelioma patients.

From the 1930’s to the 1970’s, the U. S. Military used over 300 products containing asbestos, some of them mandated for use because of their fire-retardant properties. In the Air Force, these mesothelioma-linked materials were used with brakes, heat shields, wiring and insulation. In the Army, asbestos was used in buildings as well as parts of vehicles. In the Coast Guard, many areas of the ship including the boiler room and engine were coated with asbestos insulation to prevent fire. Asbestos was also used in ropes. Marines were exposed to asbestos in ships and on land, as asbestos was used widely in both ship building and virtually every military installation. In some cases, enlisted men also participated in asbestos disposal, resulting in further exposure to the toxic material.

In particular, former Naval veterans and Naval shipyard workers have one of the highest risks of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. The material was used with boilers, gaskets, valves, and floor and pipe coverings in the engine and boiler rooms, navigation rooms, sleep quarters, and mess halls. In fact, there were practically no areas of Naval ships that were free of asbestos.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does consider applications for benefits when a veteran has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and can prove that the asbestos exposure happened during their service. Even then the VA may not approve the claim. It is extremely helpful to get advice before submitting an application for benefits to the VA. If you or someone you know is a veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma, we encourage you to fill out our online form.

 

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.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma Disease

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Cancer generally begins when genetic mutations cause the cells to multiply. When it comes to mesothelioma causes, the exact process that leads to mesothelioma is not known, but more than 90% of cases are directly linked to asbestos exposure, making this the predominant risk factor for mesothelioma. If the dust from “friable” or airborne asbestos is inhaled or, in some cases, swallowed, asbestos can lodge in the tissue. The resulting irritation may lead to mesothelioma, which can develop undetected over a period of 20 to 40 years. While some people who are exposed over a long period of time never develop mesothelioma, it can develop in others with a very brief exposure. Because of this inconsistency, it is suspected that other factors may influence the risk of mesothelioma. According to the Mayo Clinic, these other possible risk factors include personal history of asbestos exposure, exposure to a certain type of radiation, exposure to a monkey virus through a polio vaccine, and a family history of mesothelioma.

Exposure to asbestos was more common in the United States prior to the 1970’s, before the risks were well known. Unfortunately, even after the risks were well publicized, some companies continued to expose workers to unsafe levels of exposure without proper protection. Because of mesothelioma’s long latency period, some of these people have only recently been diagnosed. Sadly, a diagnosis of mesothelioma often comes with the prognosis of a short life expectancy.

Symptoms of mesothelioma can include chest pain, painful coughing, lumps, and shortness of breath. In the case of peritoneal mesothelioma, victims sometimes experience abdominal pain, swelling, lumps, and weight loss. In many cases, symptoms are subtle and easily misidentified until the disease has progressed significantly.

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be devastating to a family both emotionally and financially, as many people who develop the disease are retired and on a limited income, or are forced to quit work because of their inability to perform the necessary tasks. For this reason, it is important to learn about mesothelioma victim’s rights, as victims may find legal assistance very helpful. In many states, courts are very understanding of the needs of mesothelioma patients for a quick outcome, and potentially exhausting meetings and proceedings can kept to a minimum. For more information about services available, please fill out our online form.

 

Overview of Asbestos and Its Uses

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is formed in the earth and removed by mining. It has been used for over 2000 years in a variety of products, most taking advantage of asbestos’ fire-resistant properties. The material has been used in many countries for a variety of purposes. In the United States until the 1970’s, asbestos was commonly used in building materials such as floor tile, insulation, and roofing materials. Use in the US met a seemingly permanent decline in the 1970’s because of research that showed the health risks associated with uses of asbestos. Today, the leading producers of asbestos are Russia and China. The main consumers of asbestos products are China, India, Russia and Thailand.

There are six known types of asbestos which fall into two categories. The amphibole group includes five of the six types: amosite (brown), crocidolite (blue), anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite. The second group (the sepentine group), is a category of one, including only crysotile, or white asbestos. The properties and risks associated with each type depends on the nature of the fiber and how friable the material is. Friability refers to how easily the material can be launched into the air and potentially enter the lungs.

Although asbestos use has diminished greatly since the 1970’s, people the material is found in many structures. That’s because many of the buildings and structures that were made using asbestos materials still stand today. In homes built before the 1970’s, asbestos was used as insulation to help resist fire damage. Asbestos was often added to cement to increase it’s strength, and as a component of insulation boards, fireplace lining, roofing tiles and floor tiles. Applications that were particularly dangerous involved using more naturally friable forms of asbestos in applications that were more easily disturbed, such as in lagging and acoustic wall and ceiling “popcorn.” Because these materials still exist in many homes today, it is important for homeowners to be informed, especially if they plan to remodel or repair their home. In many cases, leaving the material undisturbed is the best course of action unless the remodel or repair is handled by an asbestos abatement expert.

Asbestos was used starting in the 1940’s in shipyards as insulation around pipes. Because of it’s light weight, low cost and resistance to heat and corrosion, the material was considered ideal until research linked the material to incidence of mesothelioma. Sadly, some companies continued to expose workers to these materials, even after the risks were well-known. Because of mesothelioma’s long latency period, many of these workers did not see health problems until recently. As a result, some people who are being diagnosed with mesothelioma are entitled to legal compensation. For more information on these or other mesothelioma-related topics, please visit our Mesothelioma and Asbestos FAQ or fill out our online form.

 

Study Highlights DIY Risks of Mesothelioma

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

A recent study in Australia confirmed that without certain precautions, do-it-yourself home renovation in homes build prior to 1980 may lead to increased risk of mesothelioma.

Australia has some of the strictest regulations on the uses of asbestos. In general, Australian workers in industries affected by mesothelioma tend to be well organized and vocal when it comes to protecting their health and safety. Lately, concern has been raised over risks of exposure to asbestos associated with home renovation. Results from a recent study published by researchers at the University of Western Australia provide evidence that the concern may be well warranted.

The study identified the primary source of asbestos in each confirmed mesothelioma case in Western Australia between 1960 and 2008, and analyzed the results for insights into the relative risk of certain activities. The results showed a marked increase since 1980 in the incidence of asbestos exposure through renovation. The study also showed that, in the last 4 years, approximately 36% of women and 9% of men diagnosed with mesothelioma identified home renovation as their primary source of asbestos exposure.

The results of this study are relevant in any part of the world. As homes built before 1980 begin to show signs of wear, they are being renovated more frequently. A large percentage of these homes were built using products that contain asbestos. Demolition, sanding, and drilling can disturb and release toxic dust from hidden asbestos, putting workers and homeowners at risk for developing mesothelioma.

The EPA has guidelines for identifying and addressing asbestos in the home, including information about where asbestos can be found, when it can be a problem, and how to identify materials containing asbestos. The EPA also lists “Asbestos Do’s and Don’t for the Homeowner” that give some valuable guidelines for home repairs, renovations and asbestos disposal.