Category Archives: Asbestos
By Peter Dockrill, http://www.sciencealert.com/
One of the most chilling facts about asbestos is that harmful exposure to the dangerous substance can take decades to reveal itself, at which point conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy offer little hope to terminal patients.
However, a new treatment developed by scientists at the University of Technology, Sydney in Australia has been shown to arrest the development of mesothelioma tumours, the cancer caused by asbestos exposure, in 60–80 percent of cases.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive, incurable cancer that occurs after asbestos fibres become lodged in our lungs. The disease can take 20–50 years to present itself, at which point most patients sadly don’t have very long to live. The average lifespan after a diagnosis of mesothelioma is nine months, with chemotherapy only giving patients an extra three months in most cases.
The new compound discovered by UTS researchers could offer a lifeline to those at risk. The reason asbestos is so dangerous is because lodged fibres can cause cells to die off by suppressing the operation of our immune system. The new treatment overcomes this mechanism at a genetic level, giving our natural defences a chance to start fighting back against the fibres.
That’s the theory anyhow, but how effective is it? Well, it’s had an impressive run in pre-clinical lab trials so far. With testing on mice exposed to asbestos, the compound stopped the development of mesothelioma tumours in 60–80 per cent of cases. The researchers are currently applying for a patent and are looking to bring on board a pharmaceutical manufacturer, with hopes a treatment could be available on the market within five years.
“We think the compound could be used through a puffer or a nebuliser, just like those used with asthma, where it could either prevent the fibres taking hold in people exposed to asbestos, or improve the condition for people suffering now,”said Tony George, one of the researchers, in an announcement of the results. Read more
By Tara Culp-Ressler, http://thinkprogress.org
Several brands of crayons and toy detective kits have tested positive for asbestos, a knowncarcinogen, according to a report released this week by an environmental group that’s advocating for the government to crack down on the substance.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund partnered with two independent laboratories to test for asbestos in crayons and children’s crime scene fingerprint kits purchased at national retailers. Four brands of crayons and two crime scene kits came back positive with trace elements of the substance — even though toy manufacturers have previously promised to make sure their products are free from the potentially harmful material.
Products that tested positive for asbestos were all manufactured in China and imported to the United States. The toys essentially contain microscopic asbestos fibers that children may end up inhaling as they use them.
The risk of asbestos exposure from the products tested — which include crayons marketed with the popular characters Mickey Mouse, the Power Rangers, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — is relatively low. But environmental researchers and health experts argue that children shouldn’t be around asbestos all, particularly since the government has acknowledged there’s no “safe” level of exposure.
“Asbestos in toys poses an unacceptable risk to children,” Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrics professor at Mt. Sinai Hospital, explains in the EWG Action Fund’s report. Landrigan used to be a senior adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on children’s environmental health. Read more
By Jillian Duff, http://www.mesothelioma.com/
Construction workers at George Washington Senior High School in Cedar Rapids failed to meet asbestos removal regulations. As a result, fibers from the hazardous material became airborne and now the school is closed for further abatement and testing.
According to the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s Manger of Buildings and Grounds Rob Kleinsmith, construction was occurring to finish the third and final year of replacing the school’s heating and ventilation system when the asbestos was discovered.
Environmental Program Supervisor in the Department of Natural Resources’ Air Quality Bureau Brian Hutchins, said, “The material isn’t a health risk as long as it’s properly contained.”
Currently, laws do not exist to mandate removal of all asbestos from schools, but each school should have a management plan in case the toxic mineral becomes damaged and no longer contained. By law, parents can review the management plan in place and if no action is taken to correct the situation soon, the local U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be notified immediately. Read more
By Matt Gray, NJ.com
A Voorhees man was sentenced to one year and a day in prison Tuesday for claiming he had removed asbestos from a former church when he never actually did the work, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ronen Bakshi, 54, submitted false documents to the City of Philadelphia’s Air Management Services office in connection with a project to remove asbestos-containing material from a former church at 1133 Spring Garden St.
Bakshi billed the non-profit owner of the property for work he never performed, authorities said. Read more
By Eric Gaillard, Reuters.com
A Kiwi professor has developed a new treatment that has already saved one man’s life and could possibly help thousands more defeat mesothelioma – an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The disease results in death shortly after diagnosis.
ADRI researchers teamed up with a Sydney-based biotech company, EnGenelC, to use a “futuristic new drug delivery system that relies on nanotechnology and guiding antibodies.” Using animal models, human mesothelioma tumors have been treated with antibody-guided minicells containing microRNA mimics – a combination dubbed TargomiRs.
“We have found an amazing inhibition of tumor growth. The results were far in excess of what have been seen with other experimental therapies in this model, and we are very excited about it,” ADRI senior researcher Dr Reid said.
Putting the microRNA inside nanocells was pretty much like using a Trojan horse, Dr Reid told ABC Australia.
“A nanocell is a delivery vehicle. You can package basically anything in there that you like, so a chemotherapy drug — or in our case a mini-gene — and then it’s injected into the body.” Read more
By Lauren Pullen, http://globalnews.ca/
Sparrow the one-eyed cat gave birth to her kittens in April. She refused to bring them down from the roof and spent the next ten weeks bringing them food and caring for the young critters. But when a neighbour found out the home was set to be demolished in the coming weeks, she jumped into action to save the animals, calling local non-profit rescue group AlleyCATS Alliance.
With the dangers faced going into the home, the rescue group knew it couldn’t save the cats alone, and called on crews from Total Restoration in Penticton to help. Read more
By Richard Mize, http://newsok.com/
A Moore man who sued more than a dozen companies for what he described as decades of negligent workplace exposure to asbestos prevailed against two of them for a judgment of $6 million in a jury trial in Oklahoma County District Court.
Michael D. Galier, 51, filed the product liability lawsuit in 2012 after he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. A jury found for him in his claims against Murco Wall Products of Fort Worth, Texas, and Welco Manufacturing Co. of North Kansas City, Mo.
The jury found a third defendant, Red Devil Inc. in Tulsa, not liable. Judge Bryan C. Dixon dismissed Oklahoma City’s M-D Building Products Inc., formerly Macklanburg-Duncan, from the suit last year but did not bar Galier from filing another suit on the same claims.
Jurors awarded no punitive damages in the case, which was decided May 18.
Galier, who owns and maintains rent houses, referred questions to attorney Jessica Dean of the Dallas law firm Dean Omar Branham.
Dean said asbestos lawsuits rarely go to a verdict. Her response to the success of this rare case?
“Grateful,” Dean said. “The jury was thoughtful and attentive in a case that lasted over two weeks. The company lawyers had more lawyers and resources and argued everything to muddy the issues. We focused on the central issue: Mike worked in home construction for years where these companies supplied asbestos products and did so when they were fully aware that those using the products and their families were at real risk of dying from cancer.” Read more
By Tim Povtak, http://www.asbestos.com
Brake pads and brake linings were the most popular asbestos import, valued at a seven-year high of $3.6 million, according to The Globe and Mail news service research.
Other related imports included various friction materials, compressed asbestos fiber jointing and shipments of crocidolite fibers — the most dangerous form of asbestos. Much of the findings came from Statistics Canada, a government website that provides economic, social and census data. Read more
By Matthew Brown, Associated press
A long-delayed cleanup proposal for a Montana community where thousands have been sickened by asbestos exposure would leave some of the dangerous material inside houses rather than remove it, as government officials seek to wind down an effort that has lasted more than 15 years and cost $540 million.
Details on the final cleanup plan for Libby, Montana, and the neighboring town of Troy were to be released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Health workers have estimated that as many as 400 people have been killed and almost 3,000 sickened by asbestos dust from a W.R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine that operated outside Libby for decades.
Asbestos-containing vermiculite would be left behind only where it does not pose a risk of exposure to people, such as underground or sealed behind the walls of a house, EPA Libby team leader Rebecca Thomas said.
“You might have vermiculite in the walls. But as long as it’s sealed within plaster or behind drywall and nobody can breathe it, it does not pose a risk,” Thomas said.
Some residents worry the material eventually would escape. An EPA research panel concluded last year that even the slightest exposure to asbestos from Libby can scar lungs and cause other health problems. Read more
By Brian Melley, Associated Press
Jurors deliberated for two hours Tuesday before finding that New York-based Colgate was 95 percent responsible for Judith Winkel’s mesothelioma, a fatal lung disease, according to her lawyers. The verdict included $1.4 million in damages for her husband.
Winkel’s lawyers said she got the rare cancer from using Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder.
“This is an example of the legal system exposing what a company should have been honest about 50 years ago,” attorney Chris Panatier said. “Judith Winkel only wanted a jury to hear the truth about this product and hopefully to help others who are similarly exposed.”
While billions of dollars have been paid in verdicts and settlements to people sickened by exposure to asbestos, it’s often in cases related to use of the mineral in construction materials or insulation. Tiny fibers of the carcinogen can be breathed in and lodge in the lungs, leading to fatal illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The Food and Drug Administration conducted a study more than five years ago that found no asbestos in cosmetics it tested containing talcum powder. However, the agency said there’s been concern about asbestos contamination in talc since the 1970s. Some studies have shown a possible association between use of talc powders and ovarian cancer but have not conclusively linked the two, the agency said. Read more