Posts Tagged ‘pleural plaques’

South Tyneside, UK, faced with rising death toll from asbestos

20 Feb 2012 by under Legal, News, People

EnglandSouthTyneside South Tyneside, UK, faced with rising death toll from asbestosThe borough of South Tyneside, a metropolitan area in Tyne and War in North East England, is setting records, but not the sort about which city leaders would be eager to boast. Deaths linked to asbestos exposure here number at twice the national average. Deaths from , an asbestos-related cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart, are the eighth highest in England and Wales, according to figures published Monday in the Shields Gazette. And, experts tell the news agency, those numbers are only expected to rise in the coming years. (more…)

Meso Foundation commends U.K. efforts on mesothelioma, urges U.S. to follow suit

17 Mar 2010 by under Legal, News, Organizations, Research/Treatment
straw Meso Foundation commends U.K. efforts on mesothelioma, urges U.S. to follow suit

UK Justice Secretary

Earlier this month, Chris Hahn, executive director of the Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) expressed his support for the recent announcement from the UK that it plans to not only endorse compensation for victims, but to promote research and treatment. In a news release, Hahn praised the U.K. for its recognition “that society’s obligation and moral responsibility to remedy the tragic legacy of decades of asbestos use requires funding research to develop effective medical treatments.” Then, he asked the all-important question: “Will the United States follow?”

Hahn’s praise and plea followed remarks by the U.K.’s Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, who has been outspoken about the government’s role in caring for workers harmed by asbestos on the job.  Straw issued a statement Feb. 25, 2010, in response to an ongoing debate over the government’s decision on the question of compensation for pleural plaques.

Although pleural plaques, which are small areas of fibrosis in the pleura of the lung caused by asbestos exposure, indicate that a person has been exposed to asbestos, they generally do not cause any significant change in lung function. As a result, the Law Lords on Oct. 17, 2007 determined that people who have pleural plaques, but no other asbestos-caused illness, are not eligible for any compensation for medical treatment or other financial claims. The debate over pleural plaques sparked a national debate about asbestos disease.

Although subsequent research did not provide enough evidence to overturn the Law Lords’ ruling, it has provided significant information about asbestos disease, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. The government also is establishing a number of policies to make it easier for those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or serious asbestos disease to receive compensation more quickly. Additionally, the research has encouraged the UK government to take a stronger stand on mesothelioma research and treatment.

According to Straw’s statement, “The fact that the UK has one of the highest rates of death from mesothelioma in the world is a legacy of our industrial heritage and the part that asbestos played in it. Just as the UK was a global leader in the asbestos industry, we must now become a global leader in research into asbestos-related disease.”

The government of the UK is calling for the creation of a National Centre for Asbestos-Related Disease, which will be a “collaborative network of funded researchers whose core purpose would be to advance medical research into the prevention, cure and alleviation of asbestos-related disease – primarily mesothelioma,” according to Straw. He said the insurance industry has pledged £3 million toward this research effort.

Benefits of such a concentrated and cooperative research and treatment program would not only benefit mesothelioma patients, but also would significantly reduce the costs of litigation, death and disability benefits, and health care costs, Hahn points out.

“This is exactly what the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has been urging in the United States the past ten years,” Hahn says. “Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are a fundamental problem of social justice. And a just solution to that problem requires medical research to develop effective treatments to end the suffering and save lives. It is encouraging to see that the U.K. is getting it; we hope the U.S. will catch up soon.”

Read Hahn’s statement.

For more information, visit the Meso Foundation online at

Startling statistic revealed during UK pleural plaque debate

3 Dec 2009 by under Legal, News, People

There is an ongoing debate in the United Kingdom about whether the country’s Labour department is responsible for compensating workers suffering from pleural plaques. In 2007, the Law Lords ruled that pleural plaques did not qualify for worker’s compensation. Pleural plaques are areas of fibrosis, or scar tissue caused by exposure to asbestos. They are usually found on the inside of the diaphragm.

A champion for the rights of workers who have developed pleural plaques as a result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace is Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn. In a meeting at the on Nov. 27, he argued the issue of pleural plaques is “immensely important” to workers and pensioners, and insisted it is the duty of members of both sides of the House to overturn the “disgraceful and unjust decision by the Law Lords to bar this terrible illness from classification as a designated illness for compensation purposes,” according to a report in The Chronicle.

Hepburn also told the Commons that pleural plaques sufferers are 1,000 times more likely to develop a more serious form of asbestos-related cancer. is a deadly form of cancer that affects the lining of the chest cavity and lungs (pleural) or the lining of the stomach (peritoneal). It may also rarely affect the lining of the heart (pericardial). There is no known cure for .

During the heated debate, The Daily Mirror reports that statistics were revealed that show mesothelioma rates in the UK have nearly doubled in 10 years. According to the news source, hospitals treated 7,349 cases of mesothelioma in the past year, compared to 3,773 cases during the timeframe of 1998-99. The Mirror calls mesothelioma an “asbestos timebomb,” citing the disease’s long latency period.

The Mirror quotes Hepburn as saying, “We’re seeing the legacy of workers exposed to asbestos in the 1960s.”

IARC study links abestos exposure to throat and ovarian cancers

23 Jul 2009 by under Events, Legal, News

A startling new study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the , says a new study reveals more cancers than previously thought are related to exposure to asbestos fibers. Results of the study were published this summer in the Lancet Oncology journal.

The findings were part of an article published in the July 19 edition of the Guardian, which says medical researchers now believe that the danger of asbestos exposure may have been “seriously underestimated.”

Asbestos disease – particularly mesothelioma – is a looming epidemic in the UK, expected to peak in the middle of the next decade, resulting in about 5,000 deaths each year, according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Many of these deaths will be a result of secondary exposure, in addition to more typical industrial type exposure, the agency says.

The Guardian article says “patterns of premature fatalities” among such professions as electricians, plumbers, garage mechanics, and even teachers and hairdressers” are now being reported.

Additionally, the government’s Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) estimates that as many as 90,000 people each year may be developing pleural plaques – an early indicator of asbestos contamination in the chest cavity and lungs. There is a debate currently raging in the UK to determine whether or not people diagnosed with pleural plaques are eligible to sue for compensation for their injury. A 2007 House of Lords judgment barred these claimants, saying pleural plaques “do not alter the structure of the lungs or restrict their expansion.”

However, proponents for the rights of those with pleural plaques to sue point out that this early asbestos disease could develop into more serious diseases including , a severe scarring of the lungs, and mesothelioma, a deadly cancer.

According to the Guardian, more than half of all work-related deaths from six major cancers in the UK are related to asbestos. Additionally, studies estimate that as many as 125 million people around the world work in asbestos-contaminated offices and factories, even if asbestos is not actively used in any manufacturing or other activity at that facility.

Now, the IARC study says “sufficient evidence is now available to show that asbestos also causes cancer of the larynx (throat) and of the ovary.”

UK Prime Minister called to rule on pleural plaque

9 Apr 2008 by under News

A report on WebWire Tuesday, April 8, 2008, says Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been called upon to intervene regarding last October’s ruling regarding compensation for workers diagnosed with pleural plaques.

The House of Lords decision eliminated compensation for people diagnosed with pleural plaques after being negligently exposed to at work, the story reports. Pleural plaques are a scarring of the lungs causes by exposure to particles, and can be a precursor to asbestosis or mesothelioma.

In the past, workers received compensation for pleural plaques, and could also receive additional compensation if they later developed mesothelioma or asbestosis.

The story reports that several Members of Parliament (MPs), along with trade union groups, have called for Brown to review questions raised in the House of Commons earlier this year about this issue.

Brown is quoted as saying, “Asbestosis and mesothelioma are terrible diseases, and all of us who have seen the effects they cause know that we have to do more to help the victims of those diseases. On pleural plaques, we are looking at the matter at this very moment.”

Brown expects to publish a consultation document on the matter very soon, and will meet with delegations representing both sides of the issue.