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-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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Criminality and Asbestos in Industry

Criminal prosecutions of individuals in the asbestos industry are reviewed, particularly the case of asbestos owner-executive Stephan Schmidheiny. Italian courts sentenced Schmidheiny to sixteen to eighteen years in jail for creating an environmental disaster causing three thousand deaths. The convictions were overturned on a technicality, and a murder case against Schmidheiny has started. His firm, Eternit, made asbestos-cement building products in many countries. Schmidheiny directed a cover-up that the Italian Court of Appeal blamed for delaying the ban of asbestos in Italy by ten years. Today, the asbestos industry is a criminal industry, profiting only by minimizing its costs for the prevention and compensation of occupational and environmental illness. The asbestos industry should only be consulted by governments for the purpose of closing it and dealing with the legacy of in-place asbestos.

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Source: Criminality and Asbestos in Industry


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Malignant Mesothelioma in a Motor Vehicle Mechanic

Case reports remain an important source of data in the debate over the carcinogenic effect of asbestos-containing automotive friction products. This report documents a case of pleural mesothelioma accompanied by asbestos bodies in the lung tissue of a career auto mechanic with no other known sources of exposure. Previously unreported historical and contemporary exposure data are also discussed in the context of providing additional support for the proposition that work with asbestos-containing automotive products presents a risk of significant exposure. While there remains a body of negative epidemiology that fails to find an increased risk of disease among auto workers, those data must be approached with caution. Many of those studies have drawn technical criticisms, which are beyond the scope of this report, but they remain a key part of the legal defense mounted by defendant-companies who are involved in asbestos-related litigation. This ongoing debate provides the context for the continued relevance of case reports such as this one, as well as the presentation of new and previously unpublished exposure data.

Source: Malignant Mesothelioma in a Motor Vehicle Mechanic


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Asbestos ban to be announced by federal government next week

The federal government plans to announce a comprehensive ban on asbestos in Canada next week, CBC News has learned.

The country currently allows imports of construction products and automotive parts that contain the toxic fibre, even though Canada no longer exports the material.

Asbestos is known to cause deadly cancers and lung diseases, and has already been banned in Europe, Australia and Japan. The World Health Organization recommends replacing asbestos with safer substitutes.

Canadian labour and public health groups have been calling for a comprehensive ban for years.

About 2,000 Canadians die of asbestos-related diseases every year — many of those deaths have been linked to asbestos exposure in the workplace.

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Source: Asbestos ban to be announced by federal government next week


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Canada should stop importing deadly asbestos, labour group says

The Canadian Labour Congress is calling for a ban on asbestos.

Exposure to asbestos — a fibrous mineral used in building and construction — is the leading cause of workplace-related death in Canada.

Canada stopped exporting asbestos in 2011, and its last asbestos mine closed in 2012. But Canada still imports asbestos for use in construction products and automotive parts.

According to the Canadian Labour Congress, the value of the imports has increased from $4.7 million in 2011 to $8.2 million in 2015.

Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, told CBC’s The Early Edition the government needs to step up and ban the import of asbestos.

“We only stopped exporting it because the mine went bankrupt, not because this is good public policy.  We knew the evidence long before that asbestos is a carcinogen.”

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Source: Canada should stop importing deadly asbestos, labour group says


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Residual fibre lung burden among patients with pleural mesothelioma who have been occupationally exposed to asbestos

Objectives  To evaluate the lungs asbestos fibres concentration in participants with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) who have been occupationally exposed.

Methods  The lung samples were obtained from pleuropneumonectomies or autopsies of 271 male MPMs. The lung samples were examined through scanning electron microscopy. Retrospective assessment was used to assess for asbestos exposure. This study includes 248 MPMs with an occupational exposure defined as either ‘definite’ or ‘probable’ or ‘possible’.

Results  The participants had finished working in asbestos exposure conditions more than 20?years ago (on average 26.1±11.0?years). The fibre burden resulted with a geometric mean equal to 2.0 (95% CI 1.6 to 2.4) million fibres per gram of dry lung tissue. The burden was higher among participants employed in asbestos textiles industry and in shipyards with insulation material, if compared with construction workers or non-asbestos textile workers or participants working in chemicals or as auto mechanics. 91.3% of MPMs had a detectable amount of amphibole fibres. A strong lung clearance capability was evident among workers exposed to chrysotile fibres. Owing to that, the 1997 Helsinki Criteria for occupational exposure were reached in <35% of cases among participant working in construction, in metallurgical industry, in chemical or textile industry and among those performing brake repair activities.

Conclusions  The MPM cases are now occurring in Italy in participants who ceased occupational asbestos exposure decades before the analysis. A large majority still shows a residual content of amphibole fibres, but given the lung clearance capability, attribution to occupational exposure cannot rely only on fibres detection.

Source: Residual fibre lung burden among patients with pleural mesothelioma who have been occupationally exposed to asbestos


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Asbestos and product defence science

In 2015, the Collegium Ramazzini, an independent, international academy of experts in occupational and environmental health, released three statements on asbestos.1–3 The documents are focused on the only form of asbestos remaining in use, i.e. chrysotile (white asbestos). The Collegium is concerned by the persisting use of chrysotile in many countries taking place in spite of the evidence of its carcinogenicity and the calls for a ban by the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the Collegium itself as well as other institutions over the past decades.

Currently, over half of the world’s population is extracting and/or using 2 million tons of asbestos annually, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. Asia has become the largest asbestos consumer in the world and Russia, Kazakhstan and Brazil have become the largest asbestos exporters. As late as 2015, the major producers and users of asbestos opposed the inclusion of chrysotile among substances covered by the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade….

The Collegium notes that the reluctance to stop using asbestos is a consequence of ‘the corrupting influence of pro-chrysotile lobbies employing product defence science’. This term encompasses research activities whose goals are not scientific knowledge but to influence policy decisions on the use of an industrial product….

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Source: Asbestos and product defence science

 


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