By Beth Swantek, http://www.asbestos.com
An asbestos exposure mishap at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis not only delayed a renovation project at an estimated cost of $350,000, but it also exposed park service employees and others to the cancer-causing mineral.
Last November, workers with contractor McCarthy Building Companies cut into asbestos insulation around an old steam pipe at the museum. Park officials responded by evacuating the area and halting renovations.
According to Kathy Schneider, project manager for the National Parks Service, the delay would normally last only a few days while the area was sealed and the pipe removed.
In this case, McCarthy workers determined they severed the same pipe a month earlier, not realizing deadly asbestos had contaminated the area. Read more
By Jhonson Peterson, NY Travel Examiner
Around the world, military and navy veterans are dying from mesothelioma (a rare kind of cancer) contracted from exposure to asbestos whilst they were on military service. But rather than aiding war heroes, laws are threatening to prevent veterans from accessing compensation.
In the UK, veterans suffering from asbestos-related illnesses are £150,000 worse off than their civilian counterparts. This is because compensation restrictionsare protecting the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) from being sued for illness and injury incurred by service personnel before 1987. In the US restrictions are being proposed on compensation for victims of asbestos under the FACT bill.
How were veterans at risk?
Asbestos exposure is linked to mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that manifests most commonly in the lungs. Life expectancy following diagnosis usually ranges from 12 to 24 months.
Naval veterans were often unwillingly (and unknowingly) exposed to asbestos through their work in boiler rooms, where the fibrous material which was regularly used as insulation and fireproofing until the late 1990s. In addition to veterans, those working on naval shipyards, like the Long Beach and Brooklyn Navy Yards, were often also exposed to asbestos. In the US, 30% of mesothelioma cancer cases are among veterans, whilst in the UK, it is estimated 2500 Navy Veterans are likely to die before 2047 from mesothelioma. Read more
By JALIN P. CUNNINGHAM, Harvard Crimson
Asbestos found in Harvard building materials recently forced at least one undergraduate to temporarily relocate out of his room in Winthrop House, although administrators say current levels of the fibrous material pose no health problems to students.
Last semester, after arriving back to his dorm, Winthrop resident Matthew W.G. Walker ’16 said he noticed a chunk of plaster had fallen from the ceiling into his closet, scattering dust over his clothes. The next day, Winthrop House staff and facility workers tested the plaster and found levels of asbestos in the material, according to Walker.
Winthrop House Masters Stephanie Robinson and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. wrote in a statement that standards of construction for older buildings are to blame for the presence of asbestos, which was frequently used for fireproofing and insulation throughout the twentieth century.
“Asbestos has been found in rooms at Winthrop House, either during repair work or during episodes where something breaks and materials behind the wall are exposed,” they wrote, adding that no students or staff members in the House are exposed to asbestos in ways that would break building codes. Read more
By Rex Hall Jr., http://www.mlive.com/
A Kalamazoo woman who was behind a salvage operation that federal prosecutors say led to the largest release of toxic asbestos in the state’s history will spend the next three years on probation, according to court documents.
In February, LuAnne LaBrie, formerly known as LuAnne McClain, pleaded guilty to failing to notify federal or state authorities that asbestos material would be stripped and removed at the former Consumers Energy power plant in Comstock Township.
In March, LaBrie also pleaded guilty in federal court to misdemeanor charges of failing to timely file a tax return in 2011 and 2012 on income of more than $1.75 million in proceeds from the salvage job.
LaBrie’s two co-defendants, Cory Hammond, of Hastings, and Robert “Mike” White,” of Kalamazoo, who supervised the salvaging of scrap metal at the power plant, pleaded guilty in February to failing to adequately wet asbestos material during the operation. Read more
By: Angela Reighard,http://www.wkyt.com/
Roger and Evelyn Hall are holding onto each other a little tighter these days.
Roger was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Mesothelioma about one year ago.
He taught history at the old Letcher High School from 1976 to 2003.
“If you wanted to have a decent life, you had to become a doctor, a lawyer, school teacher, so on. So, I figured a school teacher is easy enough,” Roger Hall said.
Hall spent a lot of time in the break room at the high school. It’s now an office at Letcher Elementary. He said he ate lunch there.
“You had no thought that you were limiting your life,” Hall said.
When he found out he had Mesothelioma, he did some research. One thing kept coming up: asbestos.
“When I asked several people I worked with is there asbestos in that school? They said it was loaded with it,” Hall said.
Hall filed a lawsuit against various members of the school district saying asbestos exposure caused his cancer.
As of today, the principal of Letcher Elementary says they are dealing with asbestos.
“We always kind of knew it was here. We just assumed it was being taken care of the way it was supposed to be taken care of,” Letcher Elementary Principal Wendy Rutherford said.
Rutherford said in the seven years she’s worked at Letcher Elementary, the custodians have followed protocol. They clean and wax the tile in order to prevent asbestos exposure.
The hallway in the school was recently sealed. However, some classrooms and the cafeteria still have the old tile.
“It is something I do think we need to address just for the safety of our students and staff and to help with fears any people have,” Rutherford said. “I think it’s a wise call for our board to remove the tile.” Read more
By Jillian Duff, http://www.mesothelioma.com/
A Conneaut, Ohio elementary school was demolished in August and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found evidence of asbestos in the debris. Inspectors arrived at the site a few days after work began to conduct samples, which tested positive.
This demolition at Amboy School occurred without contacting the EPA. Requirements to alert the EPA before construction begins are in place to make sure any possible asbestos is found and removed according to safety regulations.
“Demolition prevented the agency from determining how much material the building might have contained,” said an Ohio EPA spokeswoman Linda Oros. “Trace amounts were found at the Amboy School demolition site.” Read more
By Danielle Kaeding, Wisconsin Public Radio
More asbestos-like fibers have been discovered in rock samples from the Penokee Hills of Northwestern Wisconsin, where a company had proposed to build an open-pit iron mine.
According to a northern Wisconsin geoscientist, the greatest amounts of hazardous minerals are in the western part of the range, including the area that mining outfit Gogebic Taconite planned to develop before pulling out of the project earlier this year.
Northland College associate professor of geoscience Tom Fitz said there’s an approximately nine-mile stretch of the range with rock containing the long, slender “asbestiform” crystals. The crystals are a form of mineral known to be linked to mesothelioma, a rare type of lung cancer.
“In the stretch that’s in Wisconsin between the western part of the Penokee Range over to Ironwood, the area near Mellen, is the area that has the greatest potential to have the asbestiform variety,” Fitz said.
He said the asbestiform minerals show up in the Tyler Forks River and become abundant in some areas between there and southwest of Mellen.
Differences in geologic heat when the minerals were formed account for the variation in some parts of the range, Fitz explained. Not all so-called amphibole minerals are known to be hazardous, he said — just those that got hot enough to form into the long, slender asbestiform crystals.
“I don’t know exactly where the amphibole disappears in there, but it certainly decreases between Upson and Ironwood,” he said, cautioning that it could still be found in smaller veins across the entire range.
Fitz said more research is needed to determine what affect mining in the Penokee Hills could have on public health.
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