Danielle Smalley had never even heard of asbestos, let along malignant mesothelioma. The 23-year-old client relationship manager from Aldershot in Hampshire in the United Kingdom was born just a few years before asbestos use was banned in her country, and her parents never suspected that their child would be exposed to the toxic material while playing in a local park. But that is apparently what happened, as the young woman was recently diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare and fatal form of cancer that has left her with a difficult road ahead and an uncertain future.
Month: December 2017
Imagine, with what we now know about asbestos and its role in mesothelioma, walking down the aisles of your local store and seeing a Christmas decoration branded as “Asbestos Pure White Fire Proof Snow.” Today, that seems impossible. But in the late 1940s through to the 1950s, a company called the National Tinsel Manufacturing Company sold this product, marketing it by saying that it “Looks like real snow. Cleanest. Whitest. Best.”
When Ramesh and Vikas Jain began their multi-million-dollar redevelopment project on the site of a former Westinghouse research and technology park, they were aware that they site was contaminated with asbestos, the carcinogenic material that causes malignant mesothelioma and other deadly diseases. The two are successful businessmen whose assets total between $13 million and $14 million and who own several companies, and they were well aware of both Pennsylvania state and federal regulations regarding the handling of the toxic material. Despite this, they chose to move ahead as though there was no hazardous waste on the site. They failed to obtain permits for the handling of the material; to provide workers with protective clothing or respirators; to take precautions to prevent against the spread of asbestos dust into the community; or to dispose of the asbestos in the proper way. As a result, they have been assessed a $1.47 million fine – the largest ever assessed – by the Allegheny County Health Department.
Auto mechanics are among those with a high rate of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. This is because so many auto parts are made to withstand high heat and friction, and were made using asbestos. Mr. Schweinberg was an auto mechanic in Ohio back in the late 1980s, and had no idea that he was at risk for the rare and fatal form of cancer: he was also unaware that when he invited his girlfriend to visit him at the small garage where he worked he was putting her at risk too. Thirty years later when she was diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, she filed a lawsuit against Honeywell International, Inc., the manufacturer of the asbestos-contaminated Bendix brakes that he installed. Though Honeywell argued that there was insufficient evidence that their brakes had caused the girlfriend’s illness, their motion for summary judgment was denied by the judge in the case, who ruled that the testimony she had provided was more than enough to satisfy the legal requirements to proceed.
When Gerald Hickman was diagnosed with b, he did not have to look far to determine the source of his exposure to the carcinogenic material. He had been exposed to asbestos-contaminated brake parts for his entire life, starting when he was a child and his dad owned a service station and running through all his own years working as a mechanic in repair shops, and even on his first wife’s 1970 Ford Mustang. When he realized that the company had knowingly exposed him and others to the dangerous material, he filed a negligence lawsuit against them. Though Ford tried to have the case dismissed, the United States District Court of Delaware denied their motion for summary judgment, indicating that there was more than enough evidence that his illness stemmed from their products.
Mesothelioma is a rare and fatal form of cancer that strikes those who have been exposed to asbestos. The condition does not begin to make itself known until decades after this exposure takes place, and this means that those who know they’ve been in the presence of the dangerous carcinogen have a constant sense of helpless dread, waiting to see whether symptoms will appear. Though there is no going backward to reverse the impact of exposure, a new study has revealed that there may be steps you can take to boost your body’s ability to guard against the disease. According to an article published in the Journal of Clinical & Translational Endocrinology, there is an apparent link between the levels of Vitamin D in the bloodstream and the chances of cancers like mesothelioma manifesting.
Students at West Haven, Connecticut’s West Haven High School have been learning about asbestos and malignant mesothelioma, but it’s not because it’s on the curriculum. The subject has become a point of significant concern for the community following repeated episodes of potential asbestos exposure in the school building while students have been present, and parents are considering taking legal action to protect their kids. According to Christine Barrington, whose son is one of 1,500 students who attend the school, an entire wing of the school is currently wrapped in a tarp in anticipation of a two-month asbestos removal program starting soon, despite the fact that state regulations specifically indicate that no such work should be done while students are present.
Maryland’s current laws do not favor workers who have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. The state prohibits employees from filing claims against their employers for injuries that were incurred more than twenty years earlier, and though business advocates claim that this is to prevent businesses from having to defend against claims years after the fact, the simple fact that mesothelioma has such a long latency period means that the law effectively prohibits people who have the rare and fatal form of cancer from getting the justice that they deserve. But now the family of a pipe fitter who died of mesothelioma three years ago is trying to change all that: though they’ve been denied in two lower courts, the family of steamfitter James F. Piper is arguing before the Maryland Court of Appeals to be allowed to have their day in court.