Prior to the 1970s, the people who owned and ran asbestos companies either hid or ignored the risk of people being diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. That attitude cost tens of thousands of lives and even more heartache. Yet even today, as the mineral’s toxic nature is well understood, asbestos companies and property owners are still trying to avoid having to spend money to protect people from its carcinogenic affects. The most recent example of this comes from the owner of two buildings in Burley, Idaho that were recently destroyed by an arson fire.
The more that we learn about malignant mesothelioma, the greater our understanding of how deadly asbestos is. One of the most recent examples to come into the public’s awareness involves a U.K. woman who spent years laundering her husband’s asbestos-contaminated work clothes, and who recently succumbed to the rare and fatal form of cancer.
When you think of St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, you tend to think of paradise rather than of malignant mesothelioma. But the asbestos-caused disease is very much on the minds of workers at the island’s Limetree Bay Terminals after management has warned them that asbestos contamination may be a concern at their worksite. St. Croix was hit hard by Hurricane Maria last September, and though the island is making its way back to normal, there are concerns that asbestos from the former HOVENSA oil refinery, where asbestos contamination was known to exist, may have spread.
Last December, the popular mall store chain Claire’s pulled nine different makeup products off of their shelves due to consumer fears of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. This action followed the discovery that their glitter makeup kits, which are largely sold to pre-teens and teens, were contaminated with asbestos. Now, three months later, comes news that more of the company’s makeup products have also tested positive for the carcinogenic material.
A clinical trial of an innovative mesothelioma drug has just begun in Massachusetts, and the drug’s creators are hopeful that it will provide longer survival times and an improved quality of life for patients diagnosed with the rare and fatal form of cancer. According to a press release issued by Massachusetts biopharmaceutical company Selecta Biosciences, their drug SEL-403 takes a new approach, combining an immunotherapy drug that targets a protein commonly found in mesothelioma cancer with a drug meant to suppress an anti-body response that commonly appears when patients undergo chemotherapy and other cancer regimens.
It has been nearly twenty years since the United Kingdom completely banned asbestos in response to rising rates of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases: the country had once used the toxic material extensively for construction and shipbuilding. There are concerns that those bans might be affected now that the United States has announced plans to make sweeping changes to its trade dealings with other countries. Health advocates in Britain are expressing worry that their country might start accepting asbestos-contaminated goods from the United States.
Asbestos is well known as a carcinogen, and the single cause of malignant mesothelioma, but that hasn’t stopped contractors from being careless when it comes to the way that it is handled. In the face of a boom in demolition, renovation, and redevelopment in the city of Detroit, Michigan lawmakers are taking action to increase workplace safety and to penalize those who put both their employees and the general public at risk for asbestos-related diseases.
Patients who are diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma are frequently offered the option of surgical removal of their tumor. There are generally two types of surgery that are available:
- Pleurectomy decortication (P/D), which spares the lung and which has a lower complication rate and faster recovery times
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), which is a more radical surgery in which surgeons remove a lung, as well as the pleural membrane
Though the P/D procedure is generally viewed more favorably than the EPP procedure because of its lower potential for complication, it also has a known risk for “seeding” mesothelioma cells in new locations: when the surgeon makes an incision into the pleura, it cuts through the tumor and can spread cells into the surgical field, eventually leading to new tumor growth. Similar results have followed the insertion of pleural catheters. A team of Japanese researchers believes that it has found a surgical technique that avoids this unintended consequence, thus improving post-operative mesothelioma survival.
The publication of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition is an eagerly awaited global event, but the back cover ad on the 2018 issue has brought harsh criticism from an unexpected quarter: mesothelioma victims and others affected by exposure to asbestos. The ad was purchased by Snickers and features a mock-up of what has come to be expected of the iconic magazine, but with a twist: the model’s skimpy bikini is being worn over a HAZMAT suit, and the glamorous blonde is wearing a respirator mask and toting asbestos removal equipment. Highlighted by a fake title proclaiming “Goddesses of Asbestos Removal,” the ad was apparently an extension of Snickers’ “You’re not you when you’re hungry” ad campaign claiming that bad ideas and actions arise from hunger – but it looks like the ad was a bad idea in and of itself.
Exposure to asbestos and the mesothelioma that often results from it is usually associated with occupational settings such as factories or construction sites, as well as service in the military. But a series of recent lawsuits being heard in U.S. courts is shining a light on a previously unknown source of asbestos exposure, and it is causing tremendous concern. The lawsuits are pointing to the presence of the carcinogenic material in talcum powder, and specifically in the powders that consumers use to powder their infants and to keep themselves feeling fresh after their bath or shower. Americans have been using products like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower Bath Powder and Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder for decades: the products are trusted items purchased at their local pharmacy or grocery store and prominently displayed in nurseries and bathrooms. But now several people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma are pointing to these products as the source of their illness, and have taken the talc manufacturers to court over their claims.