Asbestos News

Despite Heavy Toll, No U.S. Asbestos Ban

The United States still imports and uses the carcinogenic mineral asbestos, despite its devastating effects on human health.

Although many think asbestos is a past problem for the United States, the lethal mineral is anything but. This is because unlike more than 50 other countries, we never implemented a complete ban on the substance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came close in 1989, but its attempt was defeated by an industry court challenge, according to The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that we imported over 2.3 million pounds (or 1,060 metric tons) in 2012 alone. While this amount is down from the peak of 803,000 metric tons imported in 1973, it is still a cause for concern. Based on current trends, U.S. asbestos consumption is likely to remain near the 1,000-ton level, claimed the USGS.

Where is all of this asbestos being used? The list of banned products and uses is meager. The U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act banned the manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution of only a few asbestos-containing products: corrugated paper, commercial paper, specialty paper, and flooring felt, as well as “new uses” of the substance.

According to the USGS, 57 percent of the imported asbestos is used in the chlor-alkali industry. Forty-one percent of the imported asbestos went into roofing materials, and the rest into “unknown applications.” Even brief exposures to asbestos can lead to a number of serious illnesses and cancers, including lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma.

If you or a family member has suffered from the devastating effects of asbestos exposure, you have rights under the law. Monetary compensation in the form of a mesothelioma lawsuit can help pay medical bills and other expenses. Why wait? Call Sokolove Law for your free no-obligation case evaluation today.

Pakistan: Heading towards Asbestos Ban?

Pakistan may join 55 other countries in imposing an asbestos ban, if its National Assembly acts according to the recommendations of one of its special subcommittees.

Last month, the Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Resource Development recommended a complete ban on the import and use of asbestos in 22 industries, according to a recent story in the Daily Times, a national newspaper. The committee hopes to safeguard worker health.

Pakistan, like many other developing nations, uses asbestos in numerous manufacturing processes and products. The article notes the material is used to make gaskets, roof coating, fabrics, gloves, clothing, clutches, construction materials, heat-resistant insulators, furnace and pipe linings, and much more.

However, asbestos has been definitively linked to many serious and often fatal diseases. These include asbestos lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma, a rare but serious cancer. Although the dangers of asbestos are clear, the United States hasn’t completely banned it.

If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, you may be eligible for a mesothelioma lawsuit. Contact Sokolove Law today for a free legal consultation about a mesothelioma lawsuit. Mesothelioma attorneys can help you investigate your exposure to asbestos, and get you the fair compensation you deserve.

Asbestos Awareness Week: April 1-7, 2012

Montana has been particularly hard hit by asbestos and the diseases it causes, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. In the small town of Libby, more than 300 people have died from asbestos related complications, which is astonishingly high for a town of less than 3,000 residents.

To honor those in Libby and elsewhere who have felt the direct effects of asbestos exposure, Montana Senator Max Baucus has successfully rallied his colleagues in Washington and passed a resolution designating the first week of April as “Asbestos Awareness Week” here in the United States.

This year, Asbestos Awareness Week will be held between April 1 and April 7. Senator Baucus told KPAX-TV, “Asbestos Awareness Week is a rallying cry to keep the tragedy of Libby from happening again. It’s also an opportunity to remind people that much more work lies ahead to help victims of asbestos-related diseases.”

Baucus was the driving force behind the EPA’s declaration of its first ever public health emergency in Libby. “Although we can never fully right the outrageous wrong that took place in Libby, we can fight to make sure the community has the tools it needs to heal. And, we can keep working hard to make sure the public is aware of the tragic impact of asbestos exposure,” he said.

Asbestos Awareness Week is a good time to look back on this deadly substance and the industry that supported it for more than a century. Here are some key facts on asbestos in the United States and around the world.

  • Over a 20-year period, studies estimate that there were more than 230,000 asbestos-related deaths from diseases including mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and gastrointestinal cancer
  • Despite the known health risks, asbestos remains legal in the United States
  • The USGS estimates that in 2010, 1,040 metric tons of asbestos were consumed in the United States
  • In 2010, more than 2 million tons of asbestos were consumed globally

It’s time to stop this shameful industry. Join our fight; Ban Asbestos Now.

Liquefied Asbestos Once Was Used for Home Improvement

Throughout the 20th century, asbestos materials were found in a whole host of consumer, commercial and military products. Everything from cigarette filters to shingles contained deadly asbestos fibers. Generations of Americans were put in danger of serious illnesses, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, despite evidence that showed that the mineral could cause cancer.liquefied asbestos spray

Asbestos, which is a group of naturally occurring minerals, is composed of thin fibers. When these fibers are inhaled, serious medical problems can result. It can take as long as 50 or 60 years for these asbestos-related diseases to manifest themselves. At one point, asbestos was even liquefied and put into aerosol cans to be used as a sprayable insulator for pipes, furnaces and other household applications.

This vintage illustration was used to sell the product. It says, “Liquefied asbestos in handy pressurized cans for spraying on heating pipes, water pipes, above furnaces and around hot-air registers.” Keep in mind that although the man pictured is supposed to be spraying a known carcinogen, he is wearing no safety equipment, such as a mask or goggles.

Today, we know better than to work with asbestos without protection. Contractors who remove it from buildings are expensive to hire because of the precautions they have to take. Asbestos is treated the same as any other hazardous material, with procedures and products designed to limit the amount of fibers released into the air and prevent widespread exposure.

Despite the danger posed by these materials, asbestos is still legal here in the United States and used widely in many developing nations abroad. The consequences of asbestos use have been seen in people of all walks of life, and thousands have died in the United States alone from the ailments it causes.

Isn’t it time we end this deplorable industry with a full ban on asbestos?

Join our fight. Help us Ban Asbestos Now.

Miles for Meso – Racing for a Mesothelioma Cure

Miles for Meso is a national series of races, fun runs and walks to support mesothelioma awareness and research. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. While mesothelioma treatments are improving, there is no known cure for the disease and more funding is needed to support medical research in this field. The infographic below puts asbestos exposure and mesothelioma into perspective:

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Asbestos Ad from 1919 Promotes Fire Protection

There are plenty of examples of advertisements from the past promoting how great asbestos was. The Johns-Manville Corporation was one of the earliest adopters of asbestos-containing building materials, specifically the asbestos roofing advertised in this piece from 1919.Asbestos Ad from 1919 Promotes Fire Protection

Immediately following World War I, the United States was in a rapid state of development and asbestos was starting to become a popular building material. As the advertisement points out, “The mushroom-like growth of American communities has brought the fire peril very near to all of us. Houses are crowded one against another. Your house is at the mercy of a community fire unless its roof is built to resist the flaming spark.”

At the time, community fires were a real concern for Americans. Events like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Great Toronto Fire of 1904 had not completely faded into memory. As people began to move from the countryside into cities, they believed the risk of fire was bound to increase.

What we didn’t know in 1919 is that despite asbestos’ ability to deter fire damage, it also can cause life-threatening diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. In fact, the first diagnosis of asbestosis, which definitively linked asbestos exposure to a deadly disease, would not be made until 1924.

Asbestos was advertised as being a ‘miracle mineral’ in the early 1900s. Of course, we now know how terrible the substance can be. It destroys lives, families and companies. The Johns-Manville Corporation, which ran this asbestos ad in 1919, filed for bankruptcy in the early 1980s as asbestos lawsuits led to mounting debts. It was one of the largest companies ever to file for bankruptcy protection at the time. At present, Johns-Manville no longer uses asbestos.

However, other companies do still manufacture and use asbestos-containing products in the United States. Given all that we know about the material now, it is unbelievable that asbestos is still actively used in our country. Isn’t it time we changed that?

Join our fight. Ban asbestos now.

Asbestos Delays Move for Prince William and Duchess Kate

The wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William had the world transfixed last April, but as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge settle into their roles in British society, they now have to deal with asbestos. According to the National Ledger, work has stalled on renovations to the couple’s residence in London’s Kensington Palace. “Early indications suggest that large quantities of asbestos will have to be removed,” a spokesman said. For us at Ban Asbestos Now, this story is a stark reminder that asbestos doesn’t discriminate. It can strike people of all walks of life, including royalty.

Prince William and Duchess KateAsbestos was once a popular building material, particularly in larger projects. Kensington Palace became a royal residence in the 1600s and has been renovated several times since. Although asbestos is an effective way to reduce the risk of fire, it also is the primary cause of the deadly cancer known as mesothelioma, which affects the smooth lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart.

The royal couple’s new home isn’t expected to be ready for at least a year. Asbestos removal can be a complicated and expensive process. If it’s not done properly, the work can result in a release of dangerous asbestos fibers into the atmosphere.

Much like the United States, the United Kingdom used large amounts of asbestos for much of the 20th century. In the United States, discoveries similar to what was found in Kensington Palace are commonplace. Many of our country’s historic structures, homes and monuments still contain asbestos-ridden materials today. Asbestos touches all sorts of people – from those who live in grand palaces, to those who work in simple factories. Unfortunately, the health effects of asbestos exposure are potentially deadly, and are the same for people from all walks of life.

Hopefully crews can successfully remove asbestos from Kensington Palace and William and Kate will continue to build their lives together in a safe environment.

Perhaps now that the substance is affecting leaders around the world, more people will realize it’s time to Ban Asbestos Now.

New Mexico Leader Ben Lujan Retires Due to Asbestos Exposure

Ben Lujan Asbestos-related diseases have impacted the lives of many different people, from ship workers and miners to housekeepers and teachers. At its height in the middle of the 20th century, asbestos usage was so widespread that millions around the world were exposed to the known carcinogen. Its harmful effects have cut short thousands of lives and have forced countless more people to stop working.

One of these victims is the speaker of New Mexico’s House of Representatives.  The Rio Grande Sun reports that Rep. Ben Lujan intends to step down because of advanced lung cancer he believes was caused by asbestos exposure.  Lujan believes he was exposed in his youth while working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  A member of New Mexico’s legislature since 1975, Lujan addressed his illness as the body opened its 2012 session, stating that he would not seek reelection to his seat.

In his speech, Lujan said, “This [cancer], I am certain, is the result of exposure to asbestos in my early days working on the hill in Los Alamos.” Lujan’s cancer is in stage four and requires complicated and dangerous treatments, including chemotherapy. “As a family, we gave stopping the cancer a top priority,” Lujan said. “But there also was important work to be done for the people of New Mexico. So it was important to [my wife] and I to make that sacrifice and commitment. It was a choice we don’t regret.”

While an outpouring of support came from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Lujan’s overall prognosis is not as positive. Asbestos-related cancers often result in death for its victims, as many of these diseases such as mesothelioma are notoriously hard to treat. Democratic state Sen. Mary Jane Garcia told the Las Cruces Sun News that Lujan’s announcement cast a sobering tone for the session. “It’s such a shock. I knew nothing of this,” she said. “Stage 4 cancer, that is so heavy. But I am sure the speaker will try to keep working.”

Here at Ban Asbestos Now, we’re tired of reading stories like this. It’s time to stop cutting livelihoods short.

Join our fight; help us Ban Asbestos Now.

Super Bowl a Reminder of NFL Great Merlin Olsen’s Asbestos-Related Casualty

When the New England Patriots and New York Giants take to the field for Super Bowl XLVI, chances are commentators will take some time to discuss the traumatic injuries often associated with the sport of football. We will likely hear about everything from concussions and bruises to torn ACLs, broken fingers and neck trauma. These are all fairly common on-field injuries for football players that the National Football League, for good reason, is trying to limit.

merlin-olsen-f1bb49de099f8773At Ban Asbestos Now, the Super Bowl is also a reminder of a football legend whose life was cut tragically short due to asbestos exposure. Merlin Olsen, a defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams, appeared in 14 Pro Bowls over the course of his 15 seasons in the league in the 1960s and 1970s, and ultimately earned a spot in the Football Hall of Hame. For Olsen, the effects of asbestos exposure proved too much, ultimately causing his death March 11, 2010, at the age of 69. The cause of death was mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. In a lawsuit filed following his diagnosis in 2009, Olsen contended that his first contact with asbestos materials occurred in his youth. He had worked in construction after school and during summer vacations and was “around workers working with asbestos drywall patching compounds.” Following his career in the NFL, Olsen was a broadcaster for NBC Sports and also appeared as an actor in “Little House on the Prairie.” He was a tremendously talented individual who, sadly, won’t be joining this year’s NBC telecast of the Super Bowl. His is just one more example of a life cut short by the harmful effects of asbestos exposure.

Like many sports leagues, the NFL is moving to try and minimize the long-term damage that on-the-field injuries pose to players by experimenting with new rules and enforcements, as well as new technologies for protective equipment and medical care. But despite all we know about the dangers associated with asbestos, little is being done today to continue to mitigate the risks associated with inhaling its toxic fibers. In the United States, asbestos usage continues to be legal. Several tons of the substance are used annually and the deaths caused by it continue to mount.

It’s time to end all usage of this substance. It’s time to be proactive about asbestos-related injuries, like the NFL is doing with on-field injuries.

Are you ready to Ban Asbestos Now?

Warren Zevon: Singer, Songwriter and Asbestos Victim

American rock and roll musician Warren Zevon was born on January 24, 1947, and would have been 65 last Tuesday. Unfortunately, his life was cut short in 2003 after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Zevon, perhaps best known for his 1978 hit “Werewolves of London,” never knew when he was exposed to the substance, but even minor contamination can lead to cause a number of deadly diseases for its victims.

Warren ZevonMesothelioma is most commonly found in people who worked directly with asbestos. Usually, this means miners, shipbuilders, factory workers and construction workers. Nevertheless, Zevon’s story is one that reminds us that many people succumb to mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos related diseases without any direct or sustained contact to asbestos materials.

In many ways the dangers of second-hand asbestos exposure are not unlike the dangers of second-hand smoke, which is banned in public spaces in 27 states. When processed, individual asbestos fibers are often only visible with a microscope. These fibers, which when inhaled damage the lining of one’s lungs over the course of several decades, are easily transported through the air or even on clothing worn in a location where asbestos was used. As a result, exposure to family members, neighbors and other acquaintances of asbestos workers can easily occur. Occasionally, in places where asbestos production and processing was a major industry, such as Libby, Montana, second-hand asbestos can represent a massive issue.

Zevon, who sung about asbestos use in factories in his 1987 song “The Factory,” likely was exposed at a relatively young age. While he went about his life, the asbestos slowly developed into an ultimately terminal case of mesothelioma. It can often take 10-40 years from the initial asbestos exposure for symptoms of mesothelioma to show.

Zevon wrote, recorded and produced his last album, “The Wind,” in the year between his diagnosis and his eventual death. It was released just two weeks before he died. That album, largely inspired by his fight against his disease, went on to win several Grammy Awards, but also is an allegory for the stark realities faced by victims of asbestos.

Preventing tragedies like the death of Warren Zevon is only possible if asbestos is banned.

Join our fight.  Help us Ban Asbestos Now.