EPA Asbestos Review May Trigger Probe of Chlorine Industry

Chlorine manufacturers, which currently are the largest U.S. importers of asbestos, could have their use of the mineral reviewed soon if the Environmental Protection Agency selects asbestos as one of the first 10 substances it will analyze under the amended chemicals law.

Chlorine and caustic soda are manufactured by the chlor-alkali industry, which uses asbestos for one of three processes that companies can use to produce both chemicals. The U.S. Geological Survey has listed the chlor-alkali industry as the primary importer of asbestos in each annual mineral commodity summary the service has published since 2013. The industry’s use accounted for 90 percent of the 358 tons of asbestos imported into the country in 2015, the geologic survey said in its 2016 summary.

The chlor-alkali industry’s use of asbestos should be evaluated by the EPA as part of an assessment of the risks posed by the mineral, Linda Reinstein, president of the nonprofit advocacy group Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 9 [2016].

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Source: EPA Asbestos Review May Trigger Probe of Chlorine Industry


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Asbestos exposure is still making people sick

Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are struggling to understand why younger populations continue to suffer asbestos-related medical issues despite efforts to reduce exposure from the toxic mineral.

According to a report released by the CDC on Thursday, numbers of deaths related to malignant mesothelioma increased from 2,479 in 1999 to 2,597 in 2015.

The largest increase was seen in those over 85 years old, but younger populations continue to be affected.

In those 16 years, 16,914 of the deaths were among people 75 to 84 years old. In the same period, 682 people between the ages of 25 and 44 died of mesothelioma-related problems.

“Although deaths among persons aged less than 35 years are of concern, we do not have information to understand potential causes,” said Dr. Jacek Mazurek, lead author of the CDC report.

Source: Asbestos exposure is still making people sick


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Mesothelioma deaths alert US to continuing asbestos exposure

A paper from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) reveals that the latest data for deaths linked to mesothelioma show increases between 1999 and 2009. The trend was for both sexes and all ethnic groups, and the authors remark that the “continuing deaths of those aged less than 55 suggests continuing exposure to asbestos fibres”.

Continuing deaths from malignant mesothelioma, the lung disease associated with asbestos fibres, have alerted the US health authorities of the need for continuing efforts to prevent exposure…..

The US Geological Survey produced a commodity summary in January 2016, which says that the chloralkali industry accounted for 90% of US consumption of 360 tons in 2015. Its use by the industry is for diaphragms which separate anode and cathode products in chloralkali electrolytic cells. The remainder is used in coatings and compounds, plastics and roofing products.
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Source: Mesothelioma deaths alert US to continuing asbestos exposure


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Asbestos Case Beats Statute of Limitations

A federal judge has denied a pump manufacturer’s argument that an asbestos-related lung cancer case should be tossed because it wasn’t filed in time.

As asbestos litigation continues its steady decline and fewer lawsuits against companies for asbestos-related illnesses make it past the early stages of litigation, plaintiff Kathleen Conneen’s case on behalf of her deceased husband, Joseph Conneen, has cleared a significant hurdle.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied defendant Goulds Pumps Inc.’s motion for summary judgment based on Pennsylvania’s two-year statute of limitations in asbestos cases, and under maritime law. Joseph Conneen worked in a shipyard.

The primary dispute centers on when Kathleen Conneen’s husband learned his exposure to asbestos could have been a factor in his diagnosis. According to Robreno’s opinion, Joseph Conneen, who filed suit in January 2015, was diagnosed with lung cancer in December of 2012.

Kathleen Conneen argued that her husband did not learn that asbestos exposure was a possible factor until February 2013, while Goulds countered that since Conneen’s husband worked around asbestos for 28 years and never smoked, he should have been more diligent in trying to identify the cause of his cancer.

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Source: Asbestos Case Beats Statute of Limitations

 


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Arizona High Court to Rule on Liability in Asbestos Take Home Exposure Case

The Arizona Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether employers can be held liable to somebody who contracted cancer from asbestos brought home on a parent’s work clothes.

The case stems from the 2014 death of Dr. Ernest Quiroz, whose 2013 negligence lawsuit contends he was exposed to asbestos on his father’s work clothes.

The facts as outlined in the appeal indicate he lived with his father from 1952 to 1966, during the time his father worked at Reynolds Metal Co. Dr. Quiroz lived in California until 1976 and in Michigan until his death in 2014. The suit alleges Dr. Quiroz contracted mesothelioma as a result of the exposure to his father’s work clothes.

The suit argues that Reynolds Metal Co. was legally obligated to avoid creating hazardous conditions that would injure people off its property.

Reynolds won a pretrial ruling by a trial judge, and the Court of Appeals upheld it.

The Court of Appeals said potential drawbacks of recognizing what’s called a duty of care in so-called “take-home exposure” cases outweigh potential benefits, partly by opening the door to liability claims involving an array of hazardous materials.

Source: Arizona High Court to Rule on Liability in Asbestos Take Home Exposure Case

 


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Patient-Derived Xenograft Establishment from Human Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Purpose: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare but aggressive disease with few therapeutic options. The tumor–stromal interface is important in MPM, but this is lost in cell lines, the main model used for preclinical studies. We sought to characterize MPM patient-derived xenografts (PDX) to determine their suitability as preclinical models and whether tumors that engraft reflect a more aggressive biological phenotype.

Experimental Design: Fresh tumors were harvested from extrapleural pneumonectomy, decortication, or biopsy samples of 50 MPM patients and implanted subcutaneously into immunodeficient mice and serially passaged for up to five generations. We correlated selected mesothelioma biomarkers between PDX and patient tumors, and PDX establishment with the clinical pathologic features of the patients, including their survival. DNA of nine PDXs was profiled using the OncoScan FFPE Express platform. Ten PDXs were treated with cisplatin and pemetrexed.

Results: A PDX was formed in 20 of 50 (40%) tumors implanted. Histologically, PDX models closely resembled the parent tumor. PDX models formed despite preoperative chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In multivariable analysis, patients whose tumors formed a PDX had significantly poorer survival when the model was adjusted for preoperative treatment (HR, 2.46; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–5.52; P = 0.028). Among 10 models treated with cisplatin, seven demonstrated growth inhibition. Genomic abnormalities seen in nine PDX models were similar to that previously reported.

Conclusions: Patients whose tumors form PDX models have poorer clinical outcomes. MPM PDX tumors closely resemble the genotype and phenotype of parent tumors, making them valuable models for preclinical studies.

Source: Patient-Derived Xenograft Establishment from Human Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma


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Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarkers in the Rational Assessment of Mesothelioma (DIAPHRAGM) study: protocol of a prospective, multicentre, observational study

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an asbestos-related cancer, which is difficult to diagnose. Thoracoscopy is frequently required but is not widely available. An accurate, non-invasive diagnostic biomarker would allow early specialist referral, limit diagnostic delays and maximise clinical trial access. Current markers offer insufficient sensitivity and are not routinely used. The SOMAmer proteomic classifier and fibulin-3 have recently demonstrated sensitivity and specificity exceeding 90% in retrospective studies. DIAPHRAGM (Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarkers in the Rational Assessment of Mesothelioma) is a suitably powered, multicentre, prospective observational study designed to determine whether these markers provide clinically useful diagnostic and prognostic information.

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Source: Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarkers in the Rational Assessment of Mesothelioma (DIAPHRAGM) study: protocol of a prospective, multicentre, observational study


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Lung-sparing surgery may boost mesothelioma survival

Surgery that preserves the lung, when combined with other therapies, appears to extend the lives of people with a subtype of the rare and deadly cancer mesothelioma, a new study suggests.

Tracking 73 patients with advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma—which affects the lungs’ protective lining in the chest cavity—researchers found that those treated with lung-sparing had an average survival of nearly three years. A subset of those patients survived longer than seven years.

Mesothelioma patients treated with chemotherapy alone, which is standard care, live an average of 12 to 18 months, the researchers said.

Study participants received lung-sparing surgeries and another treatment called photodynamic therapy that uses light to kill cancer cells. Ninety-two percent of the group also received chemotherapy.

The study volunteers achieved far longer survival times, said study author Dr. Joseph Friedberg.

“When you take the [entire] lung out, it’s a significant compromise in quality of life,” said Friedberg. He’s director of the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Mesothelioma and Thoracic Oncology Treatment and Research Center in Baltimore.

“For all intents and purposes, this [lung-sparing surgical approach] is the largest palliative operation known to man, since chances of curing mesothelioma are vanishingly small,” said Friedberg. He completed the research while at his previous post at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Plus, most of these patients are elderly, so preserving quality of life was really the goal,” he added.

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Source: Lung-sparing surgery may boost mesothelioma survival


 

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Justices OK Expert Opinion on Asbestos, Seeing No Breach of ‘Any Exposure’ Ban

Experts testifying in asbestos trials need not compare the exposure of one defendant’s products to a plaintiff’s overall exposure, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Nov. 22.

The majority reasoned that noncomparative testimony did not violate the ban against using “any exposure” causation theories.

The ruling affirmed the Superior Court’s decision, which upheld a $994,800 jury award out of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Justice Christine L. Donohue, who wrote the majority opinion in Rost v. Ford Motor, said plaintiff Richard Rost’s expert properly testified that Rost’s exposure to the defendant’s asbestos-containing products was substantial and alone could have caused Rost to develop mesothelioma. Having the expert quantify and distinguish exposure to the defendant’s products and compare that to every other exposure Rost had would create a nearly impossible hurdle for plaintiffs that doesn’t exist in other tort cases, Donohue said.

“Multiple asbestos-containing products may be substantial factors causative of a plaintiff’s mesothelioma. It is for the finder of fact, and not the courts, to make these determinations regarding substantial causation,” Donohue said. “The dissenting justices’ concern about whether the jury could understand whether the bucket of water was placed in a bathtub or an ocean misses the mark entirely, since Dr. [Arthur] Frank testified that Rost’s exposures at Smith Motors [where Ford’s asbestos-containing products were used], without more, were sufficient to cause his cancer.”

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SourceJustices OK Expert Opinion on Asbestos, Seeing No Breach of ‘Any Exposure’ Ban


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Asbestos-related cancer won’t be overcome anytime soon, doctors say

New methods are giving doctors a better handle on diagnosing and treating asbestos-related cancers, but no cures are on the horizon.

“I think it would be overly optimistic to say it’s going to be cured. I mean we can always dream,” said oncologist Dr. Christopher Lee, an expert on mesothelioma.

Paul Demers, a senior scientist in prevention at the Occupational Cancer Research Centre in Toronto, said one of the difficulties in diagnosing mesothelioma is the long latency period — the period between exposure and the development of symptoms — which can sometimes be up to 40 years.

When asbestos fibres are inhaled or ingested, they become trapped in the pleural lining of the lungs. Over time, thousands of tiny fibres cause scarring in the tissue.

New equipment like the CyTOF instrument allows doctors to detect asbestos earlier and with more precision, which could facilitate more effective treatments for asbestos victims.

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Source: Asbestos-related cancer won’t be overcome anytime soon, doctors say


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