In an effort to fight back against asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer, the city of Portland, Oregon has taken dramatic steps to cut down on both asbestos and lead dust sent into the air during home demolition. As of last February the Portland City Council passed new rules for all home demolitions that take place in the city: those new rules are now in place.
One of the reasons that malignant mesothelioma is so difficult to treat is that the disease is rarely diagnosed until it has already spread beyond its original location. Like many other types of cancer, mesothelioma metastasizes to other parts of the body. Though to a layman the focus of a cancer diagnosis is rooted in its original location, it is these metastases that are responsible for more than 90 percent of cancer deaths. In an effort to use metastasizing cells in the battle against cancer, scientists are now looking into the ability to remove cells that have left their original tumor, edit their DNA to turn them into cancer killers, then return them to the body of the patient, where they will make their way back to their original location and destroy the tumor from which they came.
All cancers represent a challenge, but malignant mesothelioma is one of the most challenging types of them all: the asbestos-related disease has proven itself resistant to traditional protocols like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and even the one drug that has been approved for its use has been limited in its effectiveness. But all that may change with new research looking into how diet can boost cancer drug effectiveness. READ MORE
Malignant mesothelioma is an asbestos-related disease that claims lives all over the world. Though it is generally thought to impact those who worked directly with asbestos, it has been proven that even those who have only secondary exposure to the deadly material are at a high risk for illness, and that point was proven last week with the death of 61-year-old Vivienne Swain. Swain was a housewife who never worked with asbestos, but she had spent years washing her husband’s overalls, which were covered with asbestos dust from his construction job. She was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma less than three years ago, and has now died of the disease.
Just weeks after an in-depth report exposed the presence of dangerous levels of asbestos, mold and lead in Philadelphia city schools, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf joined forced with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney to announce a $15.6 million grant to clear the toxic substances out of 57 school buildings over the next few months.
Richard Cook has been diagnosed with terminal pulmonary fibrosis, a disease he believes was caused by his exposure to asbestos while serving as a radio operator onboard a Navy ship. But because he served from 1958 to 1961, the VA has refused to provide him with benefits, arguing that as a “peacetime veteran” he was unable to collect the documentation that he needs to collect benefits. He is also only entitled to hospital coverage once he is officially destitute. READ MORE
A new ruling by the Delaware Supreme Court is sending shock waves through the legal world, as the justices have reversed previous decisions and decided that employers can be held responsible for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases resulting from “take home” asbestos. The specific case involved a woman who died after years of laundering her husband’s work clothes, which were covered with asbestos dust. Her family had previously sued two manufacturers that had supplied the asbestos-contaminated products to her husband’s employer, but had lost their case based on Delaware case law shielding employers from liability to workers’ spouses. Their action will mean that many more mesothelioma and asbestos victims will be able to get justice in the Delaware courts.
It’s impossible to talk about the history of asbestos in the United States, or mesothelioma, without mentioning the town of Libby, Montana. Libby is notorious for having been one of the most heavily asbestos-contaminated areas in the United States, and it has taken decades of hard work and investment on the part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as countless other agencies, to make things right. Among the efforts and after effects that followed the area’s contamination by the W.R Grace & Co. vermiculite mine is the need for constant health monitoring for the town’s residents, and anybody who lived there for a sustained period of time. The Center for Asbestos Related Disease (or as it is more popularly known, the Card Clinic) has been providing these services for many years, and has just been awarded another $2.5 million in grant money to continue providing healthcare to those at risk for or diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. READ MORE
Asbestos has been very much in the news recently because of a decision made by EPA Director Scott Pruitt not to include in-place asbestos in a critical review of health hazards. Asbestos is a highly toxic material that has been established as the cause of malignant mesothelioma, and though many in the United States are under the mistaken impression that the material’s use was banned years ago, that is not correct. The Environmental Protection Agency revealed asbestos’ dangers in the mid-1970s and attempted to have its use banned, but that effort was defeated by powerful lobbyists in the chemical industry who wanted its use continued so that they could continue to earn big profits.