Respiratory Care Week: Remember Those Exposed to Asbestos

This year National Respiratory Care Week takes place Oct. 20-26, according to the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC). The AARC is a nonprofit organization of health care professionals dedicated to ensuring that those with respiratory diseases receive safe and effective care.

National Respiratory Care Week promotes the importance of healthy lungs – but it also seeks to build awareness about diseases and conditions that can have an adverse impact on them. Lung disease can be debilitating and even fatal, so it’s important that we work to protect our lungs whenever possible.

There are many things you can do to keep your lungs strong. One of the most important?

Avoid exposure to contaminants that damage lungs. We now know that secondhand smoke, air pollution, radon gas, and certain substances can cause or exacerbate lung disease. One of those substances is asbestos.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring group of minerals, has been shown to be very dangerous to lung health. Once used widely in consumer and industrial products, asbestos is now linked to life-threatening diseases including mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer. It strikes the cells that line the lungs, abdominal organs and heart, and it is incurable. Most often this cancer is detected decades after a person was exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos exposure is preventable. That’s why it is important this week to remember those who have been exposed — and to join the fight to ban asbestos in the U.S.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact Sokolove Law for a free consultation regarding a mesothelioma lawsuit.


Should Lung Cancer Screening Guide Include Asbestos Exposure?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended that heavy smokers receive annual lung cancer screenings using low-dose CT scans instead of X-rays.

The recommendation is limited to longtime, pack-a-day smokers ages 55 to 79. However, some patient advocacy groups feel the guidance should be expanded to include those who may smoke less but have other risk factors such as exposure to asbestos, a known lung carcinogen, according to a recent posting on Boston.com.

Because of the strength and heat resistance of its fibers, asbestos was used in a wide range of commercial and residential building products, as well as in automobile parts, fabrics, gaskets, and many types of fire-resistant coatings. We now know that exposure to asbestos can result in deadly diseases such as pleural mesothelioma, a rare cancer that occurs in the membranes lining the lungs.

It can take decades for symptoms related to pleural mesothelioma to appear, which makes it critical that those exposed to asbestos-containing materials be tested. Most asbestos exposure occurs on the job but some occupations are more at risk than others. Those who worked in the construction and automobile industries, in shipyards, or spent time on U.S. Navy ships are at higher risk of exposure and should be tested regularly by a medical professional familiar with asbestos-related illnesses.

While testing for cancer comes with its own risk of excess exposure to radiation from CT scans—the preferred testing method—the task force determined that the benefits outweigh the risks for certain patients. A CT or computed tomography scan is better at identifying tumors, according to Boston.com The new recommendation could help doctors spot cancer earlier on, which is key to the treatment of mesothelioma.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, you may want to learn about potential legal action. Call Sokolove Law today and a paralegal trained in asbestos litigation can guide you through your options.


New York Politician Undergoing Mesothelioma Treatment

A prominent New York state politician is fighting mesothelioma with an experimental new treatment trial, Long Island’s Newsday is reporting (subscription required).

William J. Lindsay, 67, is the presiding officer of Long Island’s Suffolk County Legislature. Prior to holding public office, Lindsay worked as a labor leader and construction electrician. It was while working in construction that Lindsay believes he was exposed to the asbestos that caused his illness.

The article notes that Lindsay will be starting treatments next week at the National Institutes for Health in Bethesda, Md. Treatment for this rare (but often aggressive) cancer will include one week of therapy followed by a three week break; then there will be another week of treatment, and three weeks off.

Lindsay’s physicians will determine how to proceed with his mesothelioma treatment after these two rounds of treatment, says the article. Despite his treatment, Lindsay plans to return to work on March 19 for a legislative meeting.

Lindsay has already undergone conventional mesothelioma treatments, including surgery to remove a lung early last year, and radiation. In August, his doctor pronounced him cancer-free, but told him in January that the mesothelioma had returned.

Even today electricians are at a high risk of exposure to asbestos-containing building materials, such as insulation and drywall. They encounter these when running wires through older buildings. Often, this material will need to be cut or drilled to run the wires, releasing microscopic asbestos into the air. Inhaling even a small amount of asbestos can lead to asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-caused disease from exposure to asbestos at a jobsite, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To learn more about your legal options, please Sokolove Law for a free case evaluation.


EPA Looking to Finalize Cleanup of Asbestos-Contaminated Town

A panel of independent scientists confirmed findings by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that show even “miniscule” amounts of asbestos cause lung problems.

According to this story in the Insurance Journal, the science panel’s confirmation paves the way for the eventual finalization and release of a risk study on asbestos cleanup in the troubled mining town of Libby, Mont. The final risk study is expected sometime in 2014, says the EPA.

Libby is near the site of the former W.R. Grace Zonolite (an insulation product) vermiculite mining operation, which closed down in 1990. After decades of production, it was found that vermiculite from the mine was heavily contaminated by tremolite, a toxic form of naturally occurring asbestos.

In its draft report of the risk study, the EPA found that going above “extremely low levels” of airborne asbestos — 0.00002 fibers of the mineral per cubic centimeter — raises the risk of lung-scarring. Scars in the lungs frequently cause potentially fatal diseases, such as malignant mesothelioma, a rare but deadly cancer. The science board said the EPA was correct in using lung-scarring to determine asbestos risk.

The risk study will help the EPA determine when cleanup work can end in Libby. Started in 1999, the Libby asbestos abatement has so far cost more than $447 million. So extensive was the asbestos contamination, the town has been under a first-of-its kind public health emergency declaration (issued by the EPA) since 2009.

This year alone, the EPA expects to clean up at least 80 and as many as 100 properties in Libby, with several hundred more to be addressed. And depending on the risk study’s findings, this number could grow significantly.

The legacy of asbestos contamination has been devastating to the small community. Hundreds of people in and around the town have died from asbestos-related diseases, and many more have become sickened. Sadly, many more deaths are expected for decades to come because of the latency period of asbestos-related diseases — sometimes as much as 40 years.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related condition, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To learn more about your legal options, please contact Sokolove Law today. Asbestos attorneys have helped thousands of victims.


Marathoner Won’t Miss a Mile for Mesothelioma

Tom Kaisersatt successfully finished the 26.2 miles of the October 26, 2008, Silicon Valley Marathon. This adds another race completion to his history of over 150 marathons and ultra-marathons, but this finish was different from any other in his past. He did it four months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. The cancer has compromised this racer’s breathing, but with special permission from the director of the Silicon Valley Marathon, J.T. Service, Kaisersatt was allowed to run the race over the course of five weeks. He was allowed by Service to run the course at one- and two-mile intervals over the five weeks leading to the late October race. The day of the marathon, Kaisersatt completed the final five miles of the course, which were lined with dozens of others he has brought to marathon racing through his team San Jose Fit. Wearing yellow shirts to match Tom Kaisersatt’s, they chanted in support of their mentor, “Team Tom!” Cheers resounded from the spectators as Kaisersatt crossed the finish line, but he still is in a race for his life against the cancer raging in his lungs.

Just days following the Silicon Valley Marathon, Kaisersatt began his forth and final round of chemotherapy. After this session, he will be assessed by his team of physicians to determine his candidacy for surgery to remove his right lung and then radiation treatment following that. The surgery might seem a radical treatment, but left unchecked, mesothelioma can kill in just a few short months. Tom Kaisersatt is aware of this, and he acknowledges that this could be the last race he runs for a long time. A large group of his supporters from the San Jose Fit team he founded in 1998 stood by to support the man who had done so much to support them in their marathon training. They wish to bring hope to Tom, who has given them so much through his selfless actions as their leader and mentor with San Jose Fit.

Update: Tom Kaisersatt passed away due to complications from mesothelioma on September 9, 2010.


Bi-Coastal Asbestos Warnings

In MONTPELIER, VT, an abandoned asbestos mine in Eden and Lowell is prompting warnings from the state government. The Vermont government is telling people to avoid the area due to the health threat that it poses. Examining records for areas in a 10-mile radius from the mine, scientists found that there was a significantly higher rate of asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and asbestosis . Those who live close to the mine are 12 times more likely to die from asbestosis than those who live elsewhere. They are also more likely to get lung cancer. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to many deadly diseases and cancers. Some people downplay the dangers of asbestos because the diseases it causes, such as mesothelioma , do not develop for decades after exposure. Once diagnosed, though, most people with mesothelioma only live one to two years longer.

The area surrounding the mine is used by people riding all-terrain vehicles, but the Health Commissioner Wendy Davis discourages people from visiting the area. She asks people to stay away. In NORTH BEND, OR, an additional $3,750 will be needed to remove the asbestos found in a house the city wants demolished. The asbestos in the popcorn ceiling covering cannot remain in the building during the demolition as it will pose a serious health risk to the deconstruction company. The Pacific Environment Group will be charged with removing the asbestos. Once they are finished, Fortunes Bulldozing and Grading of Coquille will raze the house for a cost of $14,441. The house has been at the heart of controversy for two years that began when it was found that the ground beneath it was sliding, and the house itself could collapse. It was at that time the initial bid for deconstruction was award to Fortune Bulldozing and Grading.


Molecular Effects of Asbestos Studied by Ohio State University Researchers

For the first time, researchers are examining how asbestos particles bond to human cells to lead to cancer. This study could lead to drugs to more effectively treat asbestos-related diseases such as the nearly always fatal mesothelioma. The Ohio State University researchers used atomic force microscopy in order to look at the manner in which a single bit of asbestos adheres to one receptor on the surface of a human cell. Eric Taylor, a coauthor of the study, explains atomic force microscopy as “Braille on a molecular level.” He likens it to a means to allow the scientists to “feel” the surface of the cells and where the receptors are. The study authors speculate that for the most toxic forms of asbestos, such an attachment could set the gears into motion to lead to several types of disease decades after exposure. These include a scarring of the lung tissue known as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma — a cancer of the pleural lining of the body’s tissues, especially the lungs. There are six types of asbestos that occur naturally in soil and the bedrock.

Due to the properties of the mineral, it had been used for insulation, fireproofing, and in many other aspects of construction materials up until the 1980s. After that time, the dangers of exposure to asbestos were revealed and its use in new constructions was banned in many nations, and regulations surrounding the treatment of pre-existing asbestos tightened. However, most buildings in the Western Hemisphere built before the 1980s still have asbestos in some part of their infrastructure. Due to these factors, complete avoidance of asbestos in the workplace is difficult. According to the United States Department of Labor, about 1.3 million workers will face exposure to asbestos while on the job. Of the six forms of asbestos, crocidolite has been the focus of the Ohio State study, but they hope to examine the other five types in the near future since each form acts differently once it enters the body. The information from a comparison of the six asbestos forms can assist lawmakers in determining which form of asbestos to most strictly regulate. Ideally, the scientists of the study hope that their work can result in effective means to prevent the development of asbestos-related diseases before they manifest.


Asbestos World Watch for January 6th, 2009

In NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA, a new “Lung Bus” to assist in the early detection of lung ailments at work sites is planned to begin its services in the second half of 2009. This “Lung Bus” will have improved screening tools over the old “Lung Bus” which served New South Wales work sites since 1992. The goal of the new bus is to provide better and earlier detection of work-related lung diseases, particularly those caused by asbestos . Early detection is the key to saving lives in these deadly illnesses, and the new “Lung Bus” hopes to save many more lives in New South Wales with its improved screening equipment.

In TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA, half of the workplaces do not have an asbestos management plan in place, which places these businesses in violation of work regulations. Additional results of the appraisal of Tasmanian workplaces found that over 40 percent of them contained asbestos. Workers exposed to asbestos fibers or particles are at risk for developing any of the dozens of asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis , lung cancer , and mesothelioma . Only 51 percent of the businesses surveyed had an asbestos register or plan for management in place. Of those workplaces, 9 percent could not find their registers. The study, conducted by Unions Tasmania, highlights the need for a central register mapping asbestos in Tasmania.

In AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS, a Bangladeshi director brings to life the world of ship breaking in a new documentary, “The Last Rites”. Yasmine Kabir premiered her new film at the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam to illustrate the hazards faced by those whose task it is to dismantle ships mainly in South Asian ports. While the jobs the ship breaking provides are welcome, the toxins and hazardous materials inside them are not. Many workers taking apart these ships are subjected to inhalation of asbestos and exposure to other carcinogens throughout their career. Should they continue to be exposed over their careers, they will be destined for an early death from many forms of cancer such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. “The film is a plea to clear ships of hazardous substances before sending them to poor countries,” Kabir said. It seems that the International Maritime Organization has heard the pleas of Kabir and others, as it is pushing a global initiative to improve the safety of ship breaking through increased control and enforcement of safety standards. Kabir saw the ships as coffins and the workers as pallbearers: “The men were like pallbearers carrying the steel plates,” she said. “The impression I got was that I had witnessed a funeral.” The hope is that the funeral will also not be for the workers.


Human Faces of Mesothelioma

Many fail to remember that asbestos victims are more than just names. They are people who have families, friends, and associations. mesothelioma touches many lives, not just the patient’s. Asbestos-caused diseases do not discriminate. They occur worldwide in all classes of people, in all age groups. Sometimes one must stop and pay tribute to those victims who unwittingly find themselves in the fight for their life through no fault of their own. Below are some of their personal stories: In KETTERING, UK, the Rt Rev Ian Cundy, Bishop of Peterborough, has been battling mesothelioma for 11 months. Now, even though treatments have kept the original tumor in check, the disease has spread to other parts of his body, and Bishop Cundy will have to undergo another round of chemotherapy to treat it. The bishop began his first round of chemotherapy over the Christmas holidays in 2007. As the leader of the Anglican churches in Northhamptonshire, Rutland, and Peterborough, Bishop Cundy’s fight with cancer has been followed by the Evening Telegraph.

In January of 2008, the bishop released a recorded message to be played to congregants at his churches. In it he said, “I hope that this recorded message will reassure you that you are still in my thoughts and prayers even though I cannot be around in the diocese as much as I would like.” By April of 2008, the Evening Telegraph was reporting that Bishop Cundy was doing well and beginning to take on more of his duties again, but by October 2008, the bishop had received word that the cancer had spread and another course of exhaustive chemotherapy would be needed. Bishop Cundy remains in the thoughts and prayers of the congregates of all his churches as he continues his fight. In TACOMA, WA, USA, a respected former high school teacher and coach’s life was honored following his loss against a nine-month battle against mesothelioma.

Born on February 17, 1940, Bob Ray Stewart passed away on September 25, 2008. Affectionately known as “Coach Stew” to players, students, friends, and family, Bob leaves behind a grieving widow to whom he was married for 46 years, Diana “Folino” Stewart. In addition to being a devoted husband, Bob was a loving father and grandfather. Now his son, Michael Stewart, and grown daughter Teresa Houser, son-in-law John Houser, and three grandchildren Hailey Maher and Hanna and Grace Houser, will have no father or grandfather with whom to enjoy the holidays in 2008 and for years to come. While he served as a baseball and basketball coach and teacher at Federal Way High School from 1970 until 1998, “Coach Stew” earned the respect of his students and colleagues. Following his retirement in 1998, he still remained an active member of his community as a substitute teacher and coach for his eldest granddaughter’s softball team. This all fell to pieces after Coach Stew was diagnosed with mesothelioma in early 2008.

A funeral mass in memory Coach Stew was conducted on October 4, 2008, and the family has requested that donations to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, (PO Box 91840, Santa Barbara, CA 93190-1840; 805-563-8400) be made to honor Coach Stew’s life and to seek a cure to this deadly form of cancer which robbed one Tacoma family of a husband, father, grandfather, and coach. If a cure can be found others will not have to die too soon of a disease that was not their fault. In WISBECH, UK, Valerie Taylor is now without her husband, Frank Taylor (67) due to his untimely death from mesothelioma on August 22, 2008. He was diagnosed with the disease in April of the same year, and his widow believes that his job as a demolition worker without protective clothing led to his cancer. At an inquest with the coroner, Valerie held that the dangers of asbestos were not known at the time her husband was working around them, but he came in contact with the toxic substance regularly during demolitions and cleanups.