If you’re a fan of the various home improvement/renovation shows that have captured the nation’s attention, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an episode or two where the experts identify asbestos in a home that’s just been purchased, and the entire operation has to come to an expensive halt in order to mitigate the risk of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Though these plot twists are meant to add drama and build tension for the beleaguered, anxious homeowners, they have also raised important questions for real-life homeowners who are considering renovations. Do their homes contain asbestos? Are they at risk?
For several years, the gold standard in treatment for those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma has been an innovative surgical procedure that combined surgery to remove as much tumor tissue as possible followed by administration of a heated chemotherapy solution directly into the surgical site while it is still open. Known by the acronym CRS/HIPEC, the procedure has been thought to provide patients with the best possible outcomes. But according to a new study published in the International Journal of Clinical Oncology, data collected about outcomes from dozens of patients over a 15-year period provide a mixed bag of results, with many patients who had the surgery experiencing early recurrence of their disease.
Though asbestos use has been dramatically reduced since the time that it was linked to malignant mesothelioma, there is still significant risk posed to contractors and others from the asbestos that is already in place in older buildings, cement pipes, and other infrastructure. Demolition and renovation work done without the knowledge that asbestos is present causes it to break down and allows its fibers to float in the air where it can be inhaled or ingested. To counter this hazard, a risk management company in the UK has partnered with a local university to develop an app that tells users how much asbestos risk exists in an existing building, creating 3D plans and drawings that builders and contractors can view on their smartphones.
An Ohio manufacturing site previously cited in mesothelioma lawsuits is the latest asbestos cleanup project for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has just announced a $1.8 million cleanup of the site of the Champion Spark Plug factory which was located in Toledo. The site was razed six years ago, and no action has been taken since then, though the owner of the site was indicted and sentenced for improper removal and disposal of asbestos.
Despite the pleas of mesothelioma advocates, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has chosen to leave existing, or ‘legacy’ asbestos use out of a scheduled risk evaluation, choosing instead to limit their asbestos intervention to a significant new use rule (SNUR) that would stop or delay the chemical industry from initiating new uses of the carcinogenic material without first submitting applications to the agency for approval. Though there is merit to limiting new use, the plan falls far short of what health experts and those affected by asbestos-related diseases had hoped for: they had been optimistic that the agency would choose to entirely ban the use of the hazardous material. READ MORE
A group representing Virginia Beach, Virginia firefighters is expressing concern about a heightened mesothelioma risk after learning that firefighters may have been exposed to asbestos during a recent training session. According to Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters union president William Bailey, in April of this year a home that was contaminated with the deadly carcinogen was chosen for a planned burn without the appropriate due diligence being done, and that may have endangered those who were present for the session. READ MORE
Mesothelioma experts and health advocates are expressing outrage and concern over the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent release of its problem formulation documents with reference to the treatment of asbestos and nine other chemicals as required by the amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA). The act, which became law during the Obama administration, had been passed with the intention of broadening the investigation of potentially deadly chemicals and had mesothelioma experts hopeful that asbestos would eventually be banned in the United States. But the EPA’s decision under director Scott Pruitt makes clear that the agency will not be taking many sources of exposure to asbestos into account in its evaluations, and as a result the risks that these chemicals pose to human health will likely be severely underestimated.
The report did not focus on mesothelioma treatment specifically, but it did look at the costs of chemotherapy, a treatment that is commonly used in the treatment of many types of cancer, including mesothelioma. The study was conducted by Dr. Veena Shankaran, an oncologist and associate member with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and the results will be presented this Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. In comparing the cost of one month of chemotherapy in the United States versus just over the border in Canada, she found that the U.S. cost was $12,345 while in Canada the same treatment cost $6,195. Survival time achieved was roughly the same. The researchers plan on extending their study to include other cancer treatment costs, including imaging scans, hospitalization and surgery.
Firefighters in the city of Austin are facing the very real possibility of potential mesothelioma risk following an asbestos scare in their Mueller-area forestation. It was last January that two dozen first responders filed worker injury affidavits after a ceiling tile was dislodged inside Station 14, and the incident is just the latest among many that has city departments concerned about the administration’s ability to deal with its crumbling infrastructure and the hazards that it presents.
There’s a battle over asbestos and the risk of mesothelioma going on in Washington, D.C., but it’s not inside the Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s headquarters is undergoing both asbestos and lead abatement, and employees are complaining that their health and safety is being put in jeopardy as a result of insufficient notice and shoddy protective measures. READ MORE