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Thumbnail image for illegal dumping_farm-debris_photoblog600.jpgThe act of illegally dumping asbestos has been taking place since the moment certain laws and regulations were enacted and implemented prohibiting the reckless endangerment of innocent bystanders to this potentially toxic and lethal substance.

The Ohio EPA continues to search for the individual or individuals who, in November of 2012, dumped a large amount of asbestos containing pipe insulation on a vacant residential property. The property sits just west of Nature Conservancy property. The piping was most likely part of an old heating system and the illegal dumpers were most likely ignorant thieves looking for scrap metal to sell.

In October of 2012, two New Jersey men dumped 60,000 pounds of asbestos containing debris on an upstate New York farm, a farm that also has wetlands and runs along a river. The owner of the unoccupied land ignored both state and federal laws when he dumped the rubbish that was put through an industrial shredding machine without the asbestos first being removed. When authorities arrived to inspect the site, the dump pile was topped by two children’s bicycles, evidence that the toxic waste was being used a playground. Moreover, it was the owner’s intentions to eventually develop this asbestos laden land into commercial riverfront property.

In mid-2012, an Illinois man was sentenced to ten years for the illegal removal, handling and disposal of asbestos from a Kankakee building. A jury determined that in order to put a few more dollars in his pocket, he completely disregarded the laws put in place to protect the general public from the hazards of asbestos. He stripped dry asbestos from pipes, shoved it in regular unlabeled garbage bags, then proceeded to hap-hazardly dump the over one hundred contaminated bags into an open field. Additionally, the man was also ordered to pay restitution of $47,086 to the EPA for the cleanup of the asbestos
On an international level, Sydney Australia can finally end its hunt for a truck driver that dumped nearly two tonnes of asbestos outside two children’s care centers (pre-schools). It required over $13,000 and three months of clean-up and investigation to locate Dib Hanna. Despite several years of illegal dumping including deadly asbestos, multiple fines and convictions, Hanna was only handed a three month suspended sentence. He was actually quoted as saying “You said last time, you send me to jail. I go home and I keep going my business,” This is hardly the deterrent to future Aussie asbestos dumpers one might have hoped for.

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. They have been used commercially in a multitude of products for their heat resistant quality and inexpensive price tag. However, when the fibers become airborne and then inhaled they can be toxic and potentially lethal. Asbestos exposure has been known to cause both malignant and non-malignant disease. The above examples of human stupidity are demonstrative of one of the reasons why regulations and legislation are not sufficient to protect the public from the dangers of asbestos.
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Asbestos Danger Sign2.jpgNational Asbestos Awareness DAY began in April of 2005 (April 1st to be exact) and has now developed into a week long event filled with information and opportunity. The event was created by and has been sponsored by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). S.Res. 389 (112th): A resolution designating the first week of April as “National Asbestos Awareness Week” made it official in 2012. The organization and the scheduled events during the week are specifically designed to raise awareness as to the dangers caused by asbestos and offer support to the many who have been stricken with an asbestos related disease.

The ADOA, based out of California, is and has been the largest independent asbestos victims’ organization of its kind in the U.S. since its inception in 2004. Their goals are focused on education, advocacy and community. These are the same concepts embraced and encompassed in the topics addressed during the first seven days of April:

  • 7 Facts for 7 Days
  • Asbestos: What is It?
  • Why is Asbestos Bad for My Health
  • Share Your Story
  • A Statement from the U.S. Surgeon General
  • Progress Towards an International Asbestos Ban
  • Communication, Collaboration, and Action

During this week, the Eighth Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA. highlighting similar topics and issues as well as medical advancements in the treatment of Mesothelioma.

Awareness is the first step in the resolution of any problem. Not JUST during this week, but EVERY day, the voices should be heard of the multitude of individuals afflicted with an asbestos related disease. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 27 million American workers were exposed to asbestos on the job between 1940 and 1980. It is estimated that over 200,000 people will die as a result of that exposure before the year 2030. Yet, we continue to import asbestos, we continue to look for ways around the very rules that were implement to ensure the safety of its users and compensation for those stricken with asbestos related diseases continues to diminish.
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philip-carey-manufacturing.gifRapid American Company is a New York based company and formerly acted as a holding company for McCrory variety stores. The company never actually manufactured asbestos, but thanks in no small part to a series of acquisitions beginning with Philip Carey Manufacturing Co., Rapid American Company currently faces approximately 275,000 personal injury claims totaling an estimated $100 million in liabilities – specifically asbestos litigation.

Phillip Carey Manufacturing Corporation was established in Ohio in 1888. The company originally mined asbestos and manufactured various asbestos containing products. After multiple changes of ownership and name, the corporation eventually merged with Rapid American in 1972. Now Rapid American has found themselves facing a plethora of lawsuits as a result of the multitude of individuals who were exposed to the asbestos containing building products manufactured by Phillip Carey. Although there are actually fewer claims filed now than in previous years, the number of mesothelioma claims have increased. The increase in mesothelioma claims inevitably results in an increase in the settlement value / amount. The increase in claim value and decline in insurance coverage have left the company in a pecuniary quandary.

The financial burden of the pending claims, which now rests upon Rapid American, has resulted in the filing of a chapter 11 bankruptcy [In Re Rapid-American Corp., 13-10687, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)]. The company listed $86.9 million in assets. They did not immediately specify indebtedness, but as required by law, did produce the list of top 20 to which they are indebted.
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GREEN TEA CUP.jpgTEA TIME: For years, doctors and scientists alike have touted the benefits of Green Tea. The positive effects of green tea can extend to just about everything from visible signs of aging, high cholesterol and weight loss to Alzheimer’s, HIV and cancers such as mesothelioma.

According to the American Cancer Society, malignant mesothelioma is a cancer that starts in the cells that line certain parts of the body, most commonly the lungs and stomach. Mesothelioma also can occur in the heart and testicles.

Green tea contains large quantities of an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG); no other form of tea only GREEN TEA. It has been discovered that EGCG caused cell death in five different human mesothelioma cell lines. Another significant finding was the breakdown of certain cell components as a result of stress induced by EGCG. This breakdown is known as autophagy. The mesothelioma cell lining, although damaged by the autophagy triggered by the ECGC, sustained effects more severe when the autophagy was suppressed.

GREEN TEA LEAF.jpgThe concept of green tea fighting malignant mesothelioma is not a new one. Last year The Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published the findings of a Japanese team which stated that “EGCG is selectively cytotoxic to malignant mesothelioma cells..” In 2007 Researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California at Los Angeles discovered that a green tea extract remodeled a certain protein in lung cancer cells that made the cells more likely to group and stay together and significantly less likely to spread.

The only possible NEGATIVE associate with green tea has been caffeine. According to the Mayo Clinic more than 500 to 600 mg a day of caffeine may cause insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach upset, fast heartbeat and or muscle tremors. However, nearly every brand on the grocery store shelf carries a decaffeinated green tea. Therefore, the issue of caffeine is really a non-issue.

It has not been claimed to be the illusive cure for cancer or mesothelioma, but it appears that green tea kills cancer cells and inhibits the growth of additional cancer cells. The antioxidant in green tea is just about 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times better than vitamin E. Consult your doctor to determine if green tea could have any medical benefits to you.
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BONDEX.jpgBondex was a joint compound created and marketed by the Reardon Company. The bonding agent / joint compound was used on both commercial and residential projects. Because of the success of the product, in 1969 The Reardon Company (amongst quite a few other up-and-coming companies) was acquired by RPM International. Bondex contained asbestos – CHRYSOTILE ASBESTOS to be exact – and even after the dangers of asbestos were known, RPM International continued to manufacture and market the product. In late May of 2010 a press release announced that Bondex filed chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of the pending and anticipated asbestos claims.

Chrysotile_Asbestos.pngChrysotile asbestos is also known as “white” asbestos and makes up nearly 95% of the asbestos found in the United States today. It is a naturally occurring fibrous group of minerals resistant to heat and are excellent thermal, electrical and acoustic insulators.

There are actually six types of asbestos: Serpentine, Amphibole, Amosite, Crocidolite and Chrysotile. The debate has been which type of asbestos is more toxic. All types of asbestos fibers are known to cause serious health hazards in humans. While it is agreed that amosite and crocidolite are the most hazardous asbestos fiber types, chrysotile asbestos has produced tumors in animals and is a recognized cause of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma in humans.

During an asbestos estimation trail, Bondex put forth an expert witness that testified that Chrysotile joint compound is not likely to cause mesothelioma. Dr. Allan Feingold, a lung specialist in Miami, went to bat for the debtors. Fiengold testified that it [chrysotile] is “much less likely” to stay in the mesothelium, or the lining of the lungs, than other forms of asbestos, such as amphibole asbestos.. He later admitted that he worked only with a small sampling of 229 mesothelioma sufferers and that he was never actually given access to the lung tissue samples of those claimants. Instead, Feingold admitted that all he had to go by was the information that he was given.

Of course, Plaintiffs marched their own expert onto the witness stand who did not hesitate to testify that there is no question that Chrysotile exposure leads to cancer of the lining of the lung. After recapping her own studies she concluded that at this point – the link between Chrysotile asbestos and mesothelioma – “has been very well established”

There are two undisputed facts and that is that there are over 2000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year as a result of asbestos exposure. Secondly, that 95% of the asbestos found in the United States is Chrysotile asbestos. One need not be a genius statistician to do the math.
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bill.jpg New York State Congressman Bill Owens introduced legislation earlier this month (H.R. 204: Common Sense Waiver Act of 2013). This bill was a re-introduction of H.R. 3689 (112th) (Dec 15, 2011). If enacted, it would allow as follows:

… The Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency to waive any emission standard or other requirement under section 112 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7412) applicable to the control of asbestos emissions in the demolition or renovation of a condemned building for which there is a reasonable expectation of structural failure.

When translated, what this would allow is the dismissal of rules and regulations that were put in place specifically to protect the general population. What it does do is put cost cutting ahead of public health and safety for both the workers and those bystanders unfortunate enough to inhale the potentially deadly dust and debris.

This Bill was drafted in response to the need of various villages or communities to get rid of deteriorating buildings. Specifically, Owens first brought the issue up in 2011 when the former Tavern Arms, also known as Nikki’s Place, collapsed in on itself in downtown Malone, NY. Current regulations basically offer no provisions when a town or village is unable to afford the repair or demolition of a building that contains asbestos. The only recourse is to “let it fall down”. This does not seem like it should be an acceptable option nor is it in the interest of public safety. However, the proposed alternative is equally without “common sense”.

Current Status of the Bill: This bill was assigned to a congressional committee on January 4, 2013, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole. The chances of it actually being enacted are minimal at best, which means that common sense may actually prevail in this matter.

Asbestos has been proven to cause non-malignant conditions such as asbestosis and pleural disease and malignancies including throat cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, laryngeal cancer, lung cancer and mesothelioma. For this reason, appropriate and necessary regulations have been implemented for the handling of asbestos and asbestos containing products. It would seem to be a LACK of common sense to dismiss those regulations in consideration of the all mighty dollar. Perhaps it would be time better spent determining how to make adhering to those regulations affordable. True common sense and the well-being of each and every individual should never be cost prohibitive.

“Common sense is seeing things as they are; and doing things as they ought to be.”
― Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Trust Percentage Changes / Reductions:

One reason why you should not hesitate to pursue and file your asbestos related claim now is because many asbestos manufacturing companies are going or have gone bankrupt and the percentage of the claim value that the trusts can pay are consistently being reduced.

H.K. Porter, effective October 25, 2012 was reduced from 6.3% to 4%
Plibrico, effective November 25, 2012, was reduced from 1.2% to 1%
The Babcock & Wilcox Company, during the last quarter of 2012, was reduced to 7.5%

Trust / Bankruptcy Updates:

Metex Manufacturing, formerly known as Kentile Floors, Inc. filed for Bankruptcy (for the second time) in 1992. Although a Metex Asbestos PI Trust Pre-Effective claims Review was set up in anticipation of a bankruptcy plan being approved, they are NOT accepting claims at this time even for pre-review or pre-approval. When they are finally ready to evaluate claims, the trust will likely be handled by MFR Claims Processing.

North American Refractories Company (NARCO)
filed for bankruptcy in 2002. The company’s products include: hearths, inwalls and other blast furnace fittings; bottom checkers, domes and other black stove fittings; the MAGNECON, developed in 1928 for rotary kiln burning zones; Shotkast flue crowns; Emisshield™ coating; and the Nacrogun. The company reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy in 2008. With an estimated 6.23 billion dollars, it plans on establishing an asbestos trust in 2013
United Gilsonite (UGL)
filed for bankruptcy in 2011. This company manufactured a product called Drylock, used for leak prevention and waterproofing as well Zar wood finish. Under a plan constructed in September of 2012, UGL will put aside 11.75 million dollars for an asbestos trust fund, plus an additional 8 million in the future. This plan will hopefully be approved in 2013.

W.R. Grace finally sees the light hopefully marking the completion of a nearly 12 year bankruptcy. The company entered into bankruptcy in 2001 and hopes to finalize a plan and exit bankruptcy by the end of 2013. The light, although dim, began to flicker hopefully in a statement issued in November 2012 addressing the final appeals and a plan that would govern a trust with $250 million and the rights to proceeds under the company’s asbestos-related insurance coverage, cash and stock arising from settlements with other third-party defendants, and deferred payments of $110 million per year for five years between 2019 and 2024 — backed by more than half of the reorganized company’s stock in the event of default.

Information regarding asbestos claims through bankruptcy trusts is constantly changing and not always easy to decipher. Values are difficult to calculate and publicized information can be misleading. Be sure that you have the right information and the right people representing you and your interests.
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MARS.jpgCanada’s Jeffery asbestos mine has found a second calling. Scientists from the CSA or Canadian Space Agency have determined that the defunct asbestos mine is an ideal location for a training ground for future Rover missions in the exploration of Mars. Methane gas is prevalent at the site and so practicing the gathering of such gas on the Red Planet is facilitated. Moreover, because methane and water are indicative of life, testing to see if life is feasible on Mars can be conducted. Although not nearly as lucrative as the asbestos producing mine, Ol’ Jeffrey earned a respectable three-quarters of a million dollars in its new-found profession.

Flag-CanadaFlag.jpgCanada was once one of the biggest suppliers of asbestos to the United States. Despite the significant health hazards associated with the use of asbestos, the U.S. continues to import asbestos and asbestos containing products. Now that Canada has turned its last surviving mine into a virtual Mars, who will pick up the slack? Canada’s asbestos export sales totaled about $100 million per year and was primarily to the United States.

flag russian_flag.jpgMaybe Russia: Russia is the number one producer and largest exporter of asbestos. The town of Asbest is home to an asbestos mine nearly half the size of Manhattan Island. Just weeks ago, certain Ukrainian and Russian institutes and academies held an “international scientific conference on chrysotile asbestos to examine all scientific data” in Kiev, Ukraine. The conference was meant specifically to oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention by claiming that the science has not been established to show that chrysotile asbestos is hazardous.

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stethoscope blue.jpgPleural Disease and Asbestosis are the two (2) non-malignant asbestos related conditions. For these two diseases, there are no cures at this time. Treatment is typically palliative care which is treatment that attempts only to reduce the severity of the symptoms, relieving and preventing discomfort and suffering and is not administered as curative medicine. Antimicrobial therapy can be administered if the disease results in an infection; however, drugs are not effective in the treatment of asbestosis or pleural disease. Corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs do not alter the course of the diseases.

Symptoms of asbestosis and pleural disease include the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A persistent and productive cough (a cough that expels mucus)
  • Chest tightness
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • A dry, crackling sound in the lungs while breathing in

Aerosol medications and/or oxygen can be administered to appease or mitigate the symptoms. Physical therapies can be implemented such as pounding your chest and back repeatedly with your hands or a device to loosen the mucus from your lungs so that you can cough up the phlegm. You may also sit with your head tilted down, or lay on your stomach with your head down to help drain the mucus from your lungs.

But the most important thing once diagnosed with an asbestos related condition is to prevent the progression of the disease. Avoid any additional exposure to asbestos or any carcinogens and do not smoke. Food, rest, and exercise are essential in maintaining good health which will help mitigate the symptoms of an asbestos related disease. Taking care of your body will inevitably result in better health which will help you to breath easier: Be mindful of good nutrition. A healthy diet consists of a balance of fruits, vegetables and proteins. The proper diet is key in maintaining muscle mass and body functions. Watch your sodium or salt intake Drink lots of fluids– six to eight glasses daily is the recommended amount unless your doctor has instructed otherwise. The average person needs about eight (8) hours of sleep every day. Your body needs this time to recuperate and .mend itself. If you find yourself tiered or fatigued during the day, take short naps An appropriate exercise routine will strengthen both your muscles and your heart and lungs – a critical part of breathing easy.

Maintain cleanliness. Keep yourself and your surroundings free of germs and bacteria. The lungs and lung functions of someone with asbestosis or pleural disease are already impaired. Prevent infection, and avoid the risk of colds and flu. Get flu and pneumonia shots annually which should be administered sometime between September and December.

Asbestosis and Pleural Disease are progressive diseases. It is imperative that you get annual physicals, maintain open communication with your doctor and continually monitor your condition. Individuals who have been diagnosed with a non-malignant asbestos related condition are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma and other non-pulmonary malignancies such as colon cancer, stomach cancer, laryngeal cancer, pharyngeal cancer and esophageal cancer.
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Cancer-that-Affect-Children.jpgMesothelioma is a disease typically characterized by a very long latency period, 15 – 50 years, and exposure to asbestos. The most common form of exposure is occupational. Additionally, a large study found that people first exposed to asbestos before age 10 were less likely to develop mesothelioma than those who were exposed to the fibers later in life. Accordingly, a diagnosis of mesothelioma in a child is extremely rare.

There are certainly potential risks of asbestos exposure for children:

  • Secondhand exposure from a parent who worked with asbestos.
  • Asbestos in schools
  • Environmental asbestos (breathing the air or playing in/eating contaminated soil)
  • Asbestos in toys such as chalk, crayons and modeling clay

However, the actual percentage of children who have mesothelioma that can link the disease to asbestos exposure is relatively few.

Scientists and medical professionals alike concur that exposure to asbestos during childhood increases the risk of developing an asbestos related disease, such as mesothelioma, later in life. They further agree that almost all cases of mesothelioma can be linked to asbestos exposure, but some simply cannot. The question remains as to what exactly causes mesothelioma to manifest in children before the typical latency period and without the expected exposure to asbestos. Research is ongoing and scientists are analyzing all aspects of the disease. Similarities of the disease in children and adults are the symptoms and responses to treatments. Differences that are being analyzed include the fact that while most adults suffer from pleural mesothelioma, which is located in the lining of the lung, most children that suffer from the disease have peritoneal mesothelioma, which is a cancer in the abdominal cavity lining. Latency period is also a differentiating factor. Researchers are looking beyond the well-known link to asbestos exposure for links to this deadly disease: such as genetic predispositions or exposure to other drugs or chemicals including prenatal exposure to a drug known as isoniazid.

To date, there remains no cure. Children and adults are being stricken with the disease and have a life expectancy of only four (4) to eighteen (18) months. For both children and adults, early detection is of critical importance. Early detection in youths is even more difficult than in adults because it is so uncommon, that it is rarely an initial diagnosis. Additionally, peritoneal mesothelioma, which is the more common in young mesothelioma sufferers, requires significantly more testing to accurately diagnose.

The young and the older should always get regular check-ups. Never ignore symptoms, and speak openly with your doctor of any medical concerns.
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