Over the next year, the city—in conjunction with several local, state and federal organizations and agencies—has pledged to train 225 inmates in various environmental specialties through state correctional facilities, according to The Detroit News. The plan includes training in asbestos abatement. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’
Asbestos has plagued renovation projects undertaken by the Bay City Academy charter school in Bay City, Mich., on two separate occasions and at two separate, unrelated locations. (more…)
Another state is investigating the possible link between minerals mining and mesothelioma. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is trying to determine if asbestos-like fibers could be released from iron ore mining or sampling in the Penokee Range. It involves a naturally occurring mineral called grunerite. Grunerite can appear in a fibrous crystal form. (more…)
Representatives from the City of Detroit, Michigan, meant well, but nearly put lives in danger recently with plans to demolish around 3,000 dilapidated homes and other buildings in a blighted area. The project, whose ultimate goal was to remove 10,000 dangerous abandoned buildings over the next four years and eliminate risks like collapse, fire and disease, was featured in the local newspaper, the Detroit Free Press. As it turned out, someone from the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment was reading, and the story raised a red flag.
After a quick investigation, DNRE spokesman Robert McCann told the Free Press the agency discovered the City had not completed required asbestos inspections on the properties scheduled for demolition. The City also had not notified the state – which is required by law – of the planned demolition. The planned project was halted April 5, and City officials met with DNRE representatives to learn what they should do.
According to the Free Press, representatives from the City said they were unaware they were violating any federal regulations, and said the City has not had a history of inspecting buildings for the presence of asbestos before demolition under past administrations. The current Mayor is Dave Bing.
Some demolition occurred before DNRE officials were able to call a halt; however, subsequent asbestos testing did not find any asbestos present. The project is under the direction of the City’s Buildings and Safety Engineering Department. The houses planned for demolition are located in southwest Detroit. The City still plans to demolish 3,000 structures by the end of this year, and 10,000 structures during the next four years.
Federal regulations require that businesses or individuals planning demolition first test the structure for the presence of asbestos, remove any asbestos that is found using approved abatement procedures to ensure the safety of workers and the public, and provide a 10-day notice to the DNRE before beginning demolition. Violations could incur fines of up to $27,500 per day, and jail time. It was not noted in the Free Press story if the City is in danger of being prosecuted for its violations.
However, public interest in the story did raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, which can result in mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the chest and lungs, the lining of the abdomen, or the lining of the heart. As a result of reader interest, the newspaper published a helpful Q&A about asbestos exposure the following day.
In June we brought you the story of Michigan firefighter Brad Wilson, who faced a diagnosis of mesothelioma. His brothers at the firehouse rallied around the 25-year veteran of the Portage Fire Department, working his shifts so that he could obtain long-term disability leave, and helping raise money for him to travel to Houston for treatment.
The newspaper quotes Jim Kelecava, a fellow firefighter, as saying, “When you’re in this profession, there’s a brotherhood you feel with your co-workers, and that’s the same strong bond we all felt with Brad.” They say his willingness to put others first will be his legacy.
Wilson was laid to rest on Saturday, Jan. 3.
We are saddened to learn of Wilson’s passing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
Firefighters in the city of Portage, Michigan, are used to facing challenges. Their daily work is filled with the unexpected. Recently, however, they’ve responded to a call that has nothing to do with smoke and flames, but everything to do with helping to save a life, and this time it’s one of their own – 25-year veteran firefighter Brad Wilson, diagnosed with mesothelioma.
The Kalamazoo Gazette reports members of the Portage Fire Department, led by Rick Nason, a firefighter and president of the Portage Professional Firefighters Union, and firefighter Jim Kelecava, have organized a community fund-raising event to help Wilson and his family. The event, a spaghetti supper, will be held from 4:30-7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5855, on S. Sprinkle Road in Portage. Donations will be taken at the door.
The paper reports Wilson and his wife, Cinda, and mother, Mary Lubbert, leave next week for Houston, where Wilson will undergo evaluation at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
His co-workers at Station 3, as well as throughout the Portage Fire Department, say Wilson was always the first in line to offer help to anyone who needed it, taking extra shifts, participating in the department’s Honor Guard and raising money for underprivileged children and muscular dystrophy, according to the Gazette. It was automatic, they said, to rally around their friend and colleague.
If you live in the Portage area, please take the time to visit this fund-raising event!
Recently, Debi Swagart contacted me to share the heartbreaking story of her father’s death from mesothelioma. Living in a small town in Michigan, Warren Faubert fell ill in December 2001, but was not diagnosed with mesothelioma until May 2002 – much too late for treatment. At the time, she says, not much was known about mesothelioma, even among the small-town physicians who treated him for pneumonia. Here is her story:
Let me tell you a story about my loving Dad. He was my hero, he was my father. In December 2001 he came down with pneumonia and could never get rid of it. He didn’t really think that much about it at the time, and said the doctors were trying many different medicines to help him.
In February 2002 I got a call from my uncle that they figured my Dad had a stroke. My husband and I rushed from Memphis to Escanaba, Michigan. When we got there, what a shock! My dad had been a construction worker all his life, and was muscular and fit, especially in his upper body. He was a short man, about five-foot-five and 185 pounds. When we saw him in February, he weighed only 134 pounds. My husband and I were just shocked by his appearance, how sick he looked.
The doctor walked into the room and told my Dad, “Well, Warren, all the tests show that you did not have a stroke.” But they didn’t offer any answers about what was wrong with him. I thought, “Ok, what is going on?!” We took him home that day and I stayed with him for a week. He felt sure the doctors would help him, so I reluctantly went back home.
After I had been home in Memphis for about a week, a friend of the family called me and said, “Debi, you better get back here. Warren is not good.” I got on a plane immediately.
Dad lived in the upper part of Michigan where there are no major airports, so I flew into Green Bay, Wisconsin, and drove 2 hours to the house. As soon as I walked in, I saw that my Dad had gotten even smaller. He was down to about 110 pounds! His clothes would not fit him – they just fell off his body. I went to the store and ended up getting him a boys’ size 14, which he was able to wear. I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? What was going on?
The next day I took Dad to the doctor’s office, and they told me he had pneumonia again. I just didn’t believe this, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. Shouldn’t I trust the doctors? But he just kept getting worse. He was wasting away in front of me.
From December 2001 to May 2002 my Dad had infection in his lungs 22 times. He continued to weaken, until we rushed him to the hospital on May 1. He was admitted, but it was a nightmare from that time on.
On May 10, the doctor came in Dad’s room and admitted he had no clue what was going on. I just lost it! I started yelling, “Look, this man is a veteran, and a retired Union man! He has three medical insurance policies. Get someone in here that can help him and can tell us what is wrong!”
They ended up flying in a doctor from the Mayo Clinic. As soon as he saw my dad and looked at his case history, he told me, “I have no doubt your father has mesothelioma.”
I had no clue what he was even talking about, let alone dealing with the fact that he had a cancer that kills in the end, and no one could tell me anything about this illness. You have to understand that back then, there in the upper peninsula of Michigan, there was very little internet access. I didn’t even know how to begin researching it.
Well, they took a piece of Daddy’s lung out for a biopsy, and on May 15 it came back as stage IV mesothelioma. I was just so mad that all this time had been wasted, while his health just deteriorated. It took me getting mad and fighting with them to even get a diagnosis!
I lost my hero on June 7 from mesothelioma. He died the same day my youngest son was to graduate from college. He missed out on that. We’ve missed out on so many things now. At the time of his death, my father’s weight was 76 pounds. I will never forget the way he looked.
Of course, now my family lives in fear that I will get this also from materials my Dad might have brought home from his work on Navy bases. My husband also is retired from the Navy with 23 years, and we worry about his exposure to asbestos. I already suffer from asthma and we worry what could happen if I contract mesothelioma.
Dad served in the Korean conflict at age 17, and no VA nursing home in the upper part of Michigan would take him because they didn’t know how to deal with his illness. I am on a mission every time this is something going on in D.C., from a trust fund to any bill, you bet this daughter of a Vet is on that hill fighting for the rights of meso victims! I will not stop!
Warren Faubert was 69 when he died of mesothelioma on June 7, 2002. He died less than one month after his official diagnosis.
The Ann Arbor Business Review has an excellent article today about the costs – both financial and the cost in human lives – of asbestos disease.
The article starts from the viewpoint of economics, exploring the rising costs of asbestos insurance claims, but goes on to talk with several people who were featured speakers at the recent Asbestos Awareness Day Conference, held in Detroit, touching on the human issue and the projected cost in human life.
There is some valuable statistical information in this article.
It’s a real shame that the issue of asbestos awareness doesn’t seem to be getting much attention in the media outside of Michigan, where the conference was held. I’d like to see some national news outlets pick up on this!
As I mentioned earlier this week, I spent the past weekend in Detroit, Michigan, at the 4th Annual Asbestos Awareness Day Conference, presented by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO).
The conference was held at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, which is the location of the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers, co-directed by Dr. Michael Harbut and Dr. John Ruckdeschel, both of whom spoke at the ADAO conference.
While it might seem obvious, Dr. Harbut said, a key to diagnosing and treating asbestos disease is an emphasis on a medical approach.
Dr. Harbut explained that the Karmanos program “approaches asbestos disease from a purely medical standpoint, which includes taking into account any risk factors, employing state-of-the-art scanning equipment and a multidisciplinary, research-driven approach to early detection and treatment. This includes consideration of non-mailgnant or sub-clinical asbestos disease.
“Diseases that are ‘not hurting you yet,’” he said.
Focus areas at the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers include the establishment of a schema for high resolution CT (HRCT) classification, measurement of pleural plaque volume, examination of psycho-social aspects of asbestos disease, testing new treatments including osteopontin and SMRP, and compiling a comprehensive database of disease, diagnosis and treatment.
The Center encourages anyone at risk from asbestos exposure to seek testing for early detection.
Dr. Ruckdeschel said barriers to successful asbestos disease treatment include a sense of nihilism in the medical community, the idea of giving up on the patient when mesothelioma is diagnosed due to its traditionally high mortality rate. There is a sense of providing only “quick fix” supportive care, he said.
Other challenges include a lack of treatment centers with a documented track record, lack of large standardized treatment trials, and a paucity of research investment, Dr. Ruckdeschel said.
The Center predicts an epidemic of vermiculite and asbestos-related cancers in the near future, as the latency period of asbestos disease exposure is reached, and as asbestos exposure spreads around the world, particularly in third-world countries.
“One life lost to asbestos disease is tragic. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost is unconscionable,” Dr. Ruckdeschel said.
For more information, visit the Karmanos Cancer Institute online or call 1-800-KARMANOS.
Over the weekend I traveled to Detroit, Michigan, to attend the fourth annual Asbestos Awareness Day Conference, presented by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. The conference included a full day of educational and informative presentations on Saturday, as well as a remembrance service on Sunday.
Following is a story that appeared in the Detroit Free Press about the remembrance service, and the mission of asbestos awareness. I will post some stories and images from the conference this week, but I wanted to share this excellent report.
By Amber Hunt, Free Press Staff Writer
For Andrew Manuel, it began with back pain.
But the seemingly benign symptom turned out to be something far more sinister, and within two years, the married father of three shed 65 pounds, underwent surgery to have a lung removed and endured chemotherapy and radiation to no avail.
At 42, he was dead. The killer: mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos.
“When I heard the diagnosis, I said, ‘Meso-what?’ ” said Manuel’s wife, Latanyta Manuel, 45, on Sunday. “All I heard was ‘lung cancer,’ and I said, ‘No, that’s not possible.’ My husband never smoked or drank, but they said this cancer is about asbestos.”
On Sunday, a group of people affected by the deadly disease, which they refer to as “meso” for simplicity’s sake, gathered at the Marriott in downtown Detroit’s Renaissance Center for a remembrance brunch.
The event was sponsored by California-based Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Michigan.
Some, such as Manuel, had lost loved ones. Others have been diagnosed with the deadly disease themselves.
They gather annually, they said, to support each other and to spread the word about asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer and asbestosis.
Asbestos is a fiber that for decades was routinely used for fireproofing and insulation.
While the U.S. government has limited its use, asbestos still can be found in many products, including some stuccos, vinyl flooring and even theater curtains, according to the Asbestos Resource Center.
“Asbestos is still being imported. It’s still being put in products,” said Michelle Zigielbaum, whose husband, Paul, has been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.
By the time he was diagnosed, his stomach was so full of fluid and tumors that “I looked like a pregnant woman,” Paul Zigielbaum said.
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization recently conducted a study that tested 250 products off store shelves for asbestos content. A first lab found that 18 of the products contained asbestos.
A second lab confirmed that eight of the products had asbestos, while a third confirmed that five products — including a child’s toy — contained asbestos.
Those gathered Sunday said they and their loved ones got sick in different ways.
Andrew Manuel’s father worked in a pipeline, bringing asbestos back into the home. Paul Zigielbaum said he believes he was exposed secondhand, too, but said he also believes that contact with everyday products contributed.
All blamed aggressive asbestos lobbyists as the reason the United States hasn’t banned the substance altogether.
“It’s disturbing to see how companies and politicians try to cover it up,” said Dwayne Manuel, Andrew Manuel’s 26-year-old son. “This is a preventable disease.”
Latanyta Manuel said she just wants to honor her husband’s wishes and spread awareness about the disease.
“Once it erupts, it just kind of takes over,” she said. “People need to know.”
Contact AMBER HUNT at 586-826-7267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.