World Cancer Day 2014: Debunking the Myths about Mesothelioma


World Cancer Day, celebrated annually on February 4th, unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer. This year’s theme is “Debunking the Myths,” an important need for all types of cancer, including mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

There are about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year in the United States. By increasing awareness of this deadly disease and debunking some myths about asbestos and mesothelioma, we can help fight cancer together.

5 Myths about Asbestos and Mesothelioma

  1. No One Uses Asbestos Anymore —It’s Banned
    Asbestos is not banned in the United States. There are strict regulations governing its use, but there are still more than 3,000 consumer products that contain asbestos today.
  2. Lawyers Exaggerate the Dangers of Asbestos
    There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma can take decades to develop, but the direct connection between asbestos exposure and this deadly disease is well documented.
  3. Mesothelioma Is a Disease of the Elderly
    People under the age of 50 are rarely diagnosed with mesothelioma, but there are confirmed cases of 13-year-old young women with mesothelioma in the United States and abroad.
  4. All Mesothelioma Victims Worked Directly with Asbestos
    Not only are those who worked directly with asbestos-containing products at risk for developing mesothelioma; family members’ secondary exposure puts them at risk as well.
  5. Those Who Worked around Asbestos Knew the Risks
    Until the truth came out in the 1970s, manufacturers hid the dangers of asbestos-containing products from the public and even from those who worked with these products daily.

Read more about these myths and learn six more. You can also sign our online petition to help ban asbestos now.

Make This Your Resolution: Ban Asbestos

There’s always time to make a meaningful resolution. So as the new year gets rolling, why not make a resolution in 2014 to do something that can help yourself and others in the long run? This can be the year that you join the fight to ban asbestos.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral once prized for its strength and ability to resist heat, fire, and chemicals. Asbestos fibers were included in many products to make them more durable and fireproof. Asbestos was also used as an insulating material in many buildings – including homes and schools – in the United States.

Today we know that this “miracle mineral” is not what it seemed. Asbestos is now classified as a cancer-causing substance by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Studies have found that exposure to asbestos increases the risk of mesothelioma, a rare and fatal cancer, as well as other serious diseases.

Despite the dangers of asbestos, the U.S. has not banned this toxic substance even though asbestos bans exist in more than 50 other countries.

Here’s where you come in: Make it your 2014 resolution to help ban asbestos now. Some ways that you can do this include:

Contact Congress: Write a letter to your U.S. Congressman/Congresswoman or U.S. Senator urging them to ban asbestos-containing products.

Get Social: Keep current with the latest updates on this effort by connecting with Ban Asbestos Now! on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

Asbestos is a dangerous substance that should be banned before it can claim more victims. You can make a difference in 2014 by pushing for a ban on asbestos.

Holiday Decorations Stored in the Attic? Watch for Asbestos

Many people venture into their attics at this time of year to pull out treasured family Christmas ornaments and decorations. Unfortunately, in some older homes this innocent holiday activity has the potential to expose parents and children alike to the dangers of asbestos.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used for decades in building materials and other products due to its durability and ability to resist fire. However, studies have linked asbestos to serious diseases such as mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer. There are 3,200 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed annually in the United States.

Before the health hazards of asbestos were widely understood, an estimated 35 million buildings in the U.S.—including many homes built in the nation’s snowbelt—were insulated with Zonolite. This brand of insulation was made with a mineral called vermiculite that sometimes contained asbestos, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There is no level of asbestos exposure that is considered safe. So the EPA advises homeowners not to store boxes or other items in an attic insulated with vermiculite. Without professional testing, there is just no telling if the dust contains asbestos fibers. If asbestos dust is on boxes of holiday decorations that are moved into living areas, the tiny fibers could become airborne and be inhaled by anyone in the home. Making trips in and out of the attic with the boxes could also expose you or loved ones to this toxic substance.

Enjoy the festive season but make sure to protect your family and yourself from exposure to asbestos: Consider leaving those old ornaments and decorations in the attic.

Workers In New Jersey Claim Asbestos Exposure

A group of immigrant workers in New Jersey claim their boss ordered them to work in unsafe asbestos job conditions, says a recent article in Salon, the online magazine.

These laborers claim they had to rip out asbestos without gloves and enter a crawl space containing this toxic material, with no protective equipment. The employer, a New Jersey apartment company, didn’t show proper regard for its workers’ safety.

“The worst thing was the asbestos,” one former employee told Salon. He claimed that, while in a tight crawl space, he’d been “100 percent breathing this stuff [asbestos] in.” He said he’d received no warning about the asbestos, and so he and his fellow workers went home covered in the mineral. This meant their families were also potentially exposed to asbestos.

While the realty company denied the accusations, this story illustrates how workers continue to be exposed to dangerous asbestos on the job. Asbestos was once valued for its strength and its resistance to heat and chemicals. Because of these properties, it was used in a variety of building products and so is still present in building roofs, tiles, walls, and insulation.

Both the Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have strict rules about asbestos exposure and removal. According to OSHA’s website, when asbestos is present employers need to provide safety equipment and are “required to further protect workers by establishing regulated areas, controlling certain work practices and instituting engineering controls to reduce the airborne levels [of asbestos].”

Asbestos fibers that are released into the air during demolition or construction activity are a health threat. Fibers that are inhaled can lodge permanently in the lungs and cause mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that attacks the linings of the body’s major organs. Often, symptoms of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma take decades to appear.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible to receive compensation. Contact Sokolove Law for a free consultation today to learn more about filing an asbestos lawsuit.

With Asbestos Gone, Kensington Palace Now Fit for a Prince

It can’t be easy being the world’s most watched couple, but Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, do it with style.

Even the most mundane details of their lives are interesting to millions. The one that got our attention, of course, was that even the future King of England and his family have to protect themselves from asbestos.

It was reported in 2011 that the young royal couple had delayed moving into new quarters in London’s Kensington Palace when “large quantities” of asbestos were discovered, according to the National Ledger. Plans were made to remove the asbestos and make other necessary updates. Safe and complete removal of hazardous asbestos during any renovation is absolutely necessary but it can be a time consuming and costly process.

The couple and their infant son George finally moved into their new home last month after an 18-month renovation overseen by Middleton. According to US Weekly, the 20-room apartment now contains amenities such as three kitchens, a night and day nursery, encrypted WiFi, and a panic room – all of it now free from asbestos.

The new home is in a structure originally built in 1605 that has housed members of the British royal family since 1689. With Prince William and his son living there, it is now the home of two future kings.

Asbestos was once used in building materials for many years in both the U.S. and the U.K., and many homes in both countries still contain it. We don’t know when the asbestos in Kensington Palace was added, but it was likely intended to protect the palace from fire. Asbestos is known for its ability to resist heat and flame.

However, construction and renovation work can disturb asbestos-containing materials and cause the release of deadly fibers into the air where they may be inhaled. Asbestos exposure is linked to life-threatening diseases such as mesothelioma, a deadly and aggressive cancer. In the U.S., 3,200 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year.

Like any new parents, William and Kate want to raise their child in a healthy environment. No family, whether living in a palace or a modest public housing apartment, should be exposed to this toxic substance.

NIOSH Study Finds Higher Mesothelioma Rates for Firefighters

The danger to firefighters doesn’t end when the fire is extinguished, according to a new government study.

The study by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) followed nearly 30,000 firefighters and found they had higher rates of cancer than the U.S. population, according to Occupational Health and Safety. In particular, the study found that firefighters were twice as likely to develop mesothelioma.

An incurable form of cancer, mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos.

For much of the 20th century, many building materials — roofing, floor tiles, and plaster, to name a few — were made with asbestos. Asbestos was added to these materials in order to improve their strength, increase their ability to deaden sound, or help them to resist heat and flames.

When buildings containing asbestos catch fire, surfaces crack or are broken by firefighters. When that occurs asbestos fibers can be released into the air. At such times, there is a risk that the fibers will be inhaled by firefighters. Inhaled asbestos fibers may eventually lead to mesothelioma.

The NIOSH study is not the first to link firefighters to mesothelioma. However, this study followed a larger number of firefighters over a longer period than previous studies. NIOSH researchers looked at cancer history in 29,993 firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia between 1950 and 2009.

If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and later diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Call Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation.

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.

University of Florida Keeps Eye on Campus Asbestos

You might think that if a university spends $30 million over 40 years on asbestos abatement, the campus would be asbestos free. You’d be wrong.

Despite the University of Florida’s aggressive detection and removal efforts, there are at least 134 remaining asbestos sites on campus, according to a report in the Gainesville Sun. These are mostly small, out-of-reach areas in steam tunnels and basements. However, university officials admit that asbestos is also present in some floor tiles and lab tables.

Each of these locations is inspected annually for signs of danger by the university.

Asbestos was commonly used in building materials until the 1970s. Builders believed it to be safe as well as versatile, inexpensive, and fire-retardant. However, it is now known that exposure to asbestos is the cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive and incurable cancer. Asbestos is also associated with other serious lung diseases such as asbestosis.

In the 1980s the Florida Legislature appropriated $22 million to the state university system to abate asbestos on its campuses, accoding to the Gainesville Sun. Abatement can refer to the outright removal of asbestos, or to enclosing it to prevent exposure to the dangerous fibers.

Established in Gainesville in 1905, the University of Florida campus is home to several historic buildings, so the presence of asbestos in these older structures is not surprising.

Since its share of state funding ran out, the university has used part of its Environmental Health and Safety Department budget for asbestos testing and abatement. According to University of Florida’s industrial hygiene coordinator Tom Ladun, more than $7.6 million has been spent on abatement projects since 2005.

The Gainesville Sun writes that one recent example is the $182,000 the university spent to remove 9,050 square feet of asbestos-laden plaster coating from the Reitz Union building before a scheduled renovation this fall. While the university staff conducts annual facility checks to look for potentially dangerous asbestos (crumbling floor tiles or disintegrating insulation, for example), a major renovation or demolition triggers an outside inspection by a certified asbestos consultant.

“Here at the University of Florida, we don’t contain it — we made a conscious effort to remove it,” Curtis Reynolds, the University’s vice president of business affairs, told the Gainesville Sun. But the 134 smaller sites remain and must be monitored.

If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and later diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Call Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation.

Mesothelioma Claims Character Actor Ed Lauter

Film and television star Ed Lauter – whose acting career spanned more than four decades – passed away this week in Los Angeles. The 74-year-old character actor died from mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer.

Lauter’s publicist told the Hollywood Reporter that Lauter was diagnosed in May with mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure. How Lauter may have been exposed to asbestos is unknown. There are 3,200 mesothelioma cases diagnosed annually in the U.S.

Lauter is the second celebrity to die of mesothelioma in recent months. In August, this disease also took the life of Sean Sasser, AIDS activist and a former cast member of MTV’s Real World.

Despite Lauter’s illness, he continued to work until the last few months of his life. His recent films include Trouble With the Curve (2012), The Artist (2011), and Seabiscuit (2003). Some of the film roles for which he will be remembered include Captain Wilhelm Knauer in The Longest Yard (1974) and Maloney in Alfred Hitchcock’s final film, The Family Plot (1976).

Lauter’s television appearances included roles in both comedies and dramas. He guest starred on The Office, ER, NYPD Blue, Murder She Wrote, and Miami Vice, just to name a few.

Born in 1938 in Long Beach, New York, Lauter was a prolific performer. His credits include more than 200 films and television shows. He made his debut as an actor on Broadway in 1968, appearing with James Earl Jones in the original stage production of The Great White Hope.

Lauter is survived by his wife and four children. The Ed Lauter Foundation has been established in his honor with the goal of helping aspiring young actors.

Grandmother Seeks Answers after Developing Mesothelioma

Sandra Anne Peterson believed she was exposed to asbestos decades ago, during her brief career as a factory worker. Now the 57-year-old United Kingdom grandmother is seeking answers after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, the rare but aggressive cancer caused primarily caused by exposure to asbestos.

According to the U.K.-based Shields Gazette, Peterson believes that she was exposed to asbestos while working in two factories as a teenager in the 1970s. In one factory, she made paper cigarette filters. There was a coating used in the manufacturing process, which she called “slurry.” Peterson believes that this coating contained asbestos. “The job was really dirty, and my overalls, face and hands got covered in fine, black dust — it even got up my nose and in my hair,” remembered Peterson. “I believe it contained the asbestos fibers which have made me sick.”

Peterson also believes asbestos fibers were commonly used to insulate electrical components at another factory where she worked from 1975 to 1976. Unfortunately for Peterson and others who labored under similar conditions, there were few, if any protections, to shield them from the toxic asbestos dust. “I was completely unaware of how dangerous asbestos could be back then,” said Peterson. “It is absolutely heartbreaking to think my illness may have been caused by working at these factories when I was a teenager.”

Peterson has retained a law firm experienced in industrial diseases to help her investigate exactly how she was exposed to the asbestos. Together they are seeking her former colleagues — people who may be able to “shed light on how the factories used asbestos and the working conditions she endured, so that we can get her the justice she deserves,” as her attorney put it.

“Sandra and her family are still coming to terms with the sad news she will never recover from this terrible illness, caused by simply going to work at these factories some 40 years ago when she was a teenager,” said her attorney.

Were you exposed to asbestos at a job site and developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related condition? You may be entitled to financial compensation in the form of a mesothelioma settlement. To learn more about your legal options, please contact Sokolove Law for a free case evaluation today.