Posts Tagged ‘asbestos disease’

Lung cancer awareness takes big step forward

18 Aug 2009 by under Legal, News, Organizations

lca logo Lung cancer awareness takes big step forwardThis week the Lung Cancer Alliance announced a big step forward in raising awareness and establishing real support for lung cancer research. The agency announced Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) has agreed to cosponsor the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2009, S.332.

This important legislation authorizes a five-year program to reduce the mortality rate of lung cancer, which continues to be the number one cancer killer.

Even though mesothelioma is not technically classified as “lung cancer” because it affects the lining of the chest and lungs, and can also affect the lining of the abdomen and the heart, I am excited to see real progress being made in this area. Funding for research and treatment of lung cancer can only benefit victims of mesothelioma – pleural in particular, affecting the lungs – as well as other asbestos-related diseases that affect the lungs, such as abestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs.

The bill will require the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Defense and Veterans Affairs to combine forces on a comprehensive, coordinated plan of action with funding authorized for five years to accomplish mortality reduction goals.

Of particular interest is a requirement in the bill directing the Secretaries of Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to implement an early detection and disease management program for military personnel who are at high risk of lung cancer because of exposure to carcinogens during active duty. As the mesothelioma community knows, many veterans, particularly those who served in the U.S. Navy, now suffer from mesothelioma as a result of the widespread use of asbestos on Navy vessels for years.

According to the LCA, the bill includes specific authorizations of $75,000,000 for certain National Institutes of Health (NIH) agencies in FY10 and authorizes such additional sums as may be necessary for all the cited agencies to accomplish the goal for FY2010 through FY2014.

Read more at the LCA web site.

Asbestos Awareness Conference set for March 28

5 Feb 2009 by under Events, News, Organizations

The Awareness Organization (ADAO) has announced its Fifth Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference is set for March 28, 2009, in Manhattan Beach, Calif. The purpose of the event is to educate the public about the dangers of asbestos, ban its use and encourage efforts to improve treatment options for asbestos diseases like mesothelioma.

The conference will feature prominent physicians, scientists, safety and health directors, as well as survivors, who will present current information about the status of asbestos in the U.S. and worldwide. Discussion will include facts on exposure, asbestos-related diseases and how to prevent them, and where to turn for help.

In addition to the main event on Saturday, there will be an evening reception on Friday, March 27, featuring musician Jordan Zevon, whose father, legendary singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, died of mesothelioma in 2003; and a Unity and Hope Remembrance Brunch on Sunday, March 29.

Five individuals will be honored for their outstanding work in raising awareness about asbestos exposure: U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer for her work to ban asbestos in the U.S.;  Margaret Seminario, AFL/CIO, for her efforts to unite, educate and empower asbestos victims and workers; Dr. Stephen Levin, MD, for his research into the social and medical impact of asbestos; and Pralhad Malvadkar and Raghunath Manwar for their work with victims of asbestos exposure in India and worldwide.

The conference is presented by ADAO, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat.

For more information or registration, visit ADAO online.

UK meso victims win round one in battle for compensation

26 Nov 2008 by under Legal, News, Video

In what unions in the are calling a “hugely important victory,” the High Court ruled insurance policies in place when a worker was exposed to asbestos are liable for asbestos-related illnesses, including mesothelioma, which may develop later, according to a BBC News report. The verdict was delivered in a “test case” that examined six individual cases against insurance companies.

According to the news report, the High Court had to decide which insurance policy should cover mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases – the one in effect at the time of exposure (a liability insurance held by companies to insure them against claims by employees injured on the job) or the one in effect when a worker becomes sick.

Part of the problem with asbestos-disease related claims is that there is usually a very long latency period for mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. Sometimes symptoms do not develop for as many as 40 or more years after exposure. As a result, a person does not realize he or she has been injured in the workplace until many years later.

According to the BBC story, this ruling was especially important because many new insurance policies have exemptions against asbestos-related claims.

More than 2,000 people were diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK last year, and those numbers are expected to grow.

BBC video: Mesothelioma victims’ solicitor Carolann Hepworth reacts to High Court Ruling.

Remembering Warren Zevon, 1947-2003

5 Sep 2008 by under People

Sunday, Sept. 7, is the fifth anniversary of Warren Zevon’s death. The Grammy award-winning composer and musican, who penned such popular tunes as “Werewolves of London,” passed away in 2003 from mesothelioma, at age 56.

The following videos are from Zevon’s last appearance on the David Letterman show in October 2002, where he was the only guest for the program, a tribute to his life and work. During the interview with Letterman, Zevon quipped that facing death had taught him to “enjoy every sandwich,” a reminder to savor each moment of life.

These videos provide a wonderful portrait of this talented musician. He is greatly missed.

Warren Zevon’s son, Jordan, also a talented musician, is an active advocate for mesothelioma and asbestos disease , and spokesperson for the Asbestos Disease Organization.

UK’s youngest meso victim passes away

2 Sep 2008 by under News, People

A young woman believed to be Britain’s youngest mesothelioma patient, at age 28, passed away last week, just two years after her diagnosis, according to a story in the Daily Mail. Leigh Carlisle, who grew up in Manchester, had peritoneal mesothelioma, affecting the lining of the abdomen.

Because of its long latency period – from 20 up to 50 years – mesothelioma usually occurs in older people, age 50 and older. For that reason, Carlisle’s mesothelioma eluded diagnosis early on, with doctors mistaking her symptoms for ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pelvic infection and endometriosis. Doctors were stunned when they diagnosed peritoneal mesothelioma.

Because of her young age, researchers believe Carlisle may have come in contact with asbestos – the only known cause of mesothelioma – in her school, or possibly from a factory yard near her childhood home, which she used as a shortcut on her way to school each day. Asbestos sheets were cut at the yard.

According to the report, about 2,000 people in Britain die from mesothelioma each year, a figure that has doubled since 1992. The paper reports that 90,000 people in the UK will die from the disease, and another 90,000 from other asbestos-related lung diseases.

Additionally, the report says about 200 school workers have died or are suffering from illnesses related to asbestos exposure in schools in Britain, where it is estimated that about 13,000 schools still contain asbestos.

Following her diagnosis, Carlisle worked for mesothelioma and asbestos awareness. Her family requests that donations in her memory be made to the Oldham Cancer Support Centre in Failsworth:

Oldham Cancer Support Centre
Failsworth Primary Care Centre
Ashton Road West
M35 0AD
Tel: 0161 906 2940

CARD physician predicts mesothelioma epidemic

11 Aug 2008 by under News, Research/Treatment

An article published by the Daily Inter Lake, which serves Northwest Montana, reports on a new study by Dr. Alan Whitehouse, a pulmonologist affiliated with the Center For Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) in Libby, Montana. Dr. Whitehouse’s study, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, predicts an epidemic of cases in Libby in the next 10-20 years.

Dr. Whitehouse, along with four other physicians including CARD’s Dr. Brad Black, studied 31 mesothelioma cases, including 11 cases not previously reported. The study focused specifically on non-occupational asbestos exposure, including exposure to contamination of the community, the surrounding forested area, and areas in proximity to the Kootenai river and the railroad tracks used to haul vermiculite.

It is estimated that more than 200 people in Libby have died from asbestos-related disease, and CARD is following 2,000 additional asbestos cases. CARD primarily serves Libby residents who were affected by the W.R. Grace-operated vermiculite mine, which was in operation for many years, and at high capacity from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Focus has recently shifted to include people suffering from asbestos disease and mesothelioma who never came into direct contact with the vermiculite mining operation. In June, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency announced an $8 million grant to fund a five-year study of the effects of low-level asbestos exposure.

CDC grant for possible Ground Zero illnesses

31 Jul 2008 by under News, Research/Treatment

The Centers for Disease Control () recently announced a new program to provide $30 million in grant money for health screenings, assessments, monitoring and tracking, and improved access to health care services and treatments for those who may have been impacted by the World Trade Center collapse on Sept. 11. The grant will be available not only to first responders and other workers, but also to hundreds of thousands of Manhattan residents who live or lived near the Twin Towers.

The buildings’ collapse released thousands of pounds of hazardous material into the atmosphere, which may have included a combination of glass, asbestos, fiberglass, pulverized concrete, lead, mercury, cadmium, dioxins and PCBs. Construction of the World Trade Center buildings was begun before the use of asbestos was banned in the U.S., and some estimates say as much as 400 tons of asbestos fiber was in the buildings.

People near Ground Zero could experience a number of medical problems as a result of their exposure to this toxic dust, including respiratory problems and asbestos disease including mesothelioma.

In an official release from the CDC, Christine Branche, acting director of the CDC’s (NIOSH), said, “These public health dollars extend the reach of our efforts so that they help support the provision of the health care services to residents, students, an others who were in the vicinity of the attacks of September 11, 2001.”

The release says the NIOSH-administered grants provide up to $10 million per year for three years, and the money can be used to help cover gaps when individuals’ public or private insurance is insufficient to fully cover the costs associated with care or treatment.

Funding will be provided to one to three organizations, with the deadline for proposal submission set for Aug. 25, 2008. For more information about how to apply for one of these grants, visit The CDC encourages health and medical care facilities to apply.

The CDC says it already has invested at least $925 million in programs to support responders to the 9/11 emergency.

$8 million asbestos study in Libby

19 Jun 2008 by under News, Research/Treatment

After years of ignoring the dangers of asbestos, and the resulting nationwide epidemic of asbestos disease, including mesothelioma, there is a renewed interest in studying this deadly material. This week, the Billings Gazette announced the federal government will fund an $8 million study to understand the health effects of low-level exposure to asbestos. The study will be based in Libby, Montana, where more than 200 people have died to date as a result of asbestos mining operations in the town, and hundreds more people suffer from asbestos related diseases.

The Libby program, dubbed the Libby Amphibole Health Risk Initiative, is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The study is expected to span 5 years with a goal of expanding knowledge about the potential and real health issues of asbestos exposure.

Libby already has proved a tragically rich source of knowledge about long-term exposure to high levels of asbestos, as the EPA’s initial examination and cleanup of the town focused on miners with direct exposure to the substance in their jobs, as well as people who handled asbestos mineral and were exposed to asbestos dust secondarily on a daily basis.

But, the Gazette reports, too little is know about exposure to lower levels of asbestos. EPA officials hope that results of the study will benefit not only the residents of Libby, but people throughout the country.

In April, the Minnesota state legislature approved $4.9 million for its own five-year study, to be conducted under the direction of the University of Minnesota, in connection with unusually high levels of mesothelioma affecting Iron Range mine workers. A large question in the area is whether dust from the taconite mined there – a fibrous mineral similar to asbestos – could also cause mesothelioma.

A key part of the Minnesota will be an examination of previous asbestos exposure among mine workers, which will expand the base of knowledge about the affect of asbestos on health, in addition to the new studies about the effect of taconite.

According to the Billings Gazette, among tests to be included in the Libby study are a comparison of film and digital chest X-rays to determine which is best for assessing the lungs, a comparison of the health of people exposed to Libby asbestos in childhood versus people who weren’t, an expanded evaluation of Libby residents who were exposed to asbestos, an assessment of whether the health problems related to asbestos exposure extend beyond lung disease.

Researchers in Libby also hope to make improvements to public health tracking systems and patient health record databases, to better link exposure information to health conditions, the Gazette reports.

Gayla Benefield, perhaps one of the best-known residents of Libby for her early outcry about the health effects of asbestos on the people in her town, says she is happy to see an emphasis on research.

She was a charter member of the board of directors of the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD), a not-for-profit clinic governed by a volunteer community board and devoted to healthcare, outreach, and research to benefit all people impacted by exposure to Libby amphibole asbestos. She only recently retired from her position with that organization.

“This is something I’ve wanted from the onset – more study and more research,” she says. “I’ve been especially interested in how much or how little of the (asbestos) fiber can cause meso, and I’ve been really concerned about the schools having been contaminated.”

The key, Benefield says, is to detect mesothelioma at its earliest stage, when there is still time for treatment to prolong life. When people around her in Libby began being diagnosed, she says, their mesothelioma was so advanced that many died within days of the diagnosis.

“We all – everyone in Libby – live under the threat of developing mesothelioma,” she says. “They’re never going to get all that (asbestos) fiber out of Libby, or anywhere for that matter, homes with asbestos insulation, so the research is the big thing. Any and all research having to do with mesothelioma is fantastic. A dream come true.”

Australia braces for new wave of mesothelioma cases

26 May 2008 by under News

A report in The Courier Mail, based in Queensland, , says mesothelioma deaths could double in the coming years, as the disease begins to strike end users of asbestos products, like amateur home renovators.

According to the report, the “first wave” of mesothelioma victims were those who mined asbestos, and the second wave affected people who worked with asbestos in factories or manufacturing industries. The next wave, they say, is affecting people who work with asbestos materials, like construction workers.

In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos, which has been used in building materials in Australia for decades, also causes asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancers.

Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia president Barry Robson is working with government officials for a national approach to education, treatment and for asbestos-related diseases.

Action alert for Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act

20 May 2008 by under Events, Legal

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) has issued an “action alert” urging its constituents to call on their House Representative this week to support prompt passage of The of 2007 (H.R. 3339), sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN).

In October 2007, the Senate companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), passed. The House bill toughened the legislation, under the direction of the Environment and Hazardous Material Subcommittee of the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, eliminating an exception for asbestos present at 1 percent or less by weight, making the ban a matter of federal statute rather than EPA regulation, and adding enforcement provisions.

The Meso Foundation reports the critically needed medical research funding provisions from Sen. Murray’s and Congresswoman McCollum’s legislation have not yet been added to the Committee Print.

In a statement released yesterday in support of including the research funding, the Meso Foundation said, “for the sake of all those already exposed, those now sick, and those who will be exposed in the future to asbestos already in place, we call on the Health Subcommittee to follow Sen. Murray and Congresswoman McCollum in recognizing the necessity of a robust asbestos disease research program, and to adopt the research funding provisions included in their legislation.”

Read the full story about this important legislation at Yahoo! News.

Supporters are urged to contact their Representative in Washington, DC, to urge inclusion of the research funding and swift passage of the complete bill once the funding is in place.

In Alabama, House Representatives are Robert Aderholt (4th Congressional District), Jo Bonner (1st), Mike Rogers (3rd), Spencer Bachus (6th), Robert E. “Bud” Cramer (5th) and (2nd). If you are not sure which is your congressional district, to locate contact information for your representative or to locate the representative for your state, visit the United States House of Representatives online, and click on your state for a list of your representatives.

Please contact your Representative NOW to let them know you support this legislation and to ask for their support. Please email me if you’d like any help!