Malignant mesothelioma is a condition that has been directly linked to exposure to asbestos, but despite the fact that this is now widely understood, the risk of exposure continues. Yesterday’s high risk environments, including military installations and factories, have been largely cleaned up, leaving behind settings where asbestos was put in place years ago and has never been cleaned up. These environments include wide swaths of America’s infrastructure, and in particular America’s school buildings. A recent incident involving the Philadelphia School District brings the situation’s dangers into sharp focus.
Month: January 2019
One of the most unfortunate statistics around the rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma is the high number of U.S. Navy veterans that make up the disease’s victims. It has been estimated that one third of those diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma are veterans, with the vast majority of them having served onboard Navy ships or in Navy shipyards. The reason for this is clear: the equipment and insulation used to construct the vessels and keep them operating was heavily fabricated using asbestos, the carcinogenic material that has been directly named as mesothelioma’s cause. A widow seeking compensation for the suffering that her Navy veteran husband endured following his diagnosis and subsequent death recently faced the company responsible for her husband’s exposure, and upon telling her story the judge moved that her case deserved a hearing by a jury, despite the company’s objections and arguments that there was insufficient proof of their role in his death.
The source of Charley Edenfield’s mesothelioma was no mystery to his widow, Thomasina Fowler. She knew that Charley had worked for 40 years at a plant where asbestos was used on a constant basis: she just needed to prove who had provided the asbestos. After a long and contentious battle to have her late husband’s story heard, Ms. Fowler had her day in court, and on Tuesday a New Jersey jury awarded her $2.38 million in damages for the suffering that she and her husband endured and the expenses that they incurred. That award may go even higher, as the jury is now considering whether to assess punitive damages against the asbestos supplier, Union Carbide.
It has been nearly forty years since the Environmental Protection Agency passed the Superfund law, and ten since Libby, Montana was declared a public emergency in view of its extensive asbestos contamination from the W.R. Grace & Company vermiculite mine, but doctors treating patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are seeing no slowdown in the number of patients that they are treating – and they say that no end is in sight. Dr. Brad Black has been treating those affected by asbestos in Libby since 1977, and he says that the year 2030 is his best estimate of when he’ll see a decline in the number of patients who need treatment. While Black and his colleagues work to treat patients and educate other physicians about the unique aspects of Libby’s asbestos-related diseases, they are also trying to advance asbestos science to support those who are seeking justice from the companies that exposed innocent victims to asbestos.
In the face of irrefutable evidence that exposure to asbestos causes numerous fatal and serious illnesses, include mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis, the country of Canada has done what the United States still has not been willing to do: they banned they import, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. Though the ban does include some exceptions, survivors of those who have been lost to mesothelioma are praising the move, expressing hope that it will save lives, and looking forward to the other steps that need to be taken. read more
When a patient is first diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the diagnostic process quickly turns to staging: physicians need to understand exactly how far the tumors have spread within the body so that they can select the appropriate course of treatment. All too frequently tumors are diagnosed as “unresectable,” which means that surgical removal is not a possibility. Losing an aggressive course of treatment like surgery can be disheartening, as it generally leaves only chemotherapy and radiation therapy as options. The development of new medications like avelumab, an anti tumor medication, is giving these patients new hope, especially in light of the most recent clinical trial conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute. read more
If mesothelioma victims had to choose one place in the United States to use as an example of the impact of asbestos, there’s a good chance they would choose Libby, Montana. Libby was the site of the W. R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine that spread asbestos throughout an entire community. It sickened workers and residents, contaminating the ground, the homes, retail establishments and travel routes. Hundreds of died and thousands have been sickened, with many more expected to be diagnosed in the coming years. Now, in response to the current backlog of lawsuits waiting to be heard and in anticipation of more to come, the Montana Supreme Court has appointed six additional judges to a special asbestos claims court designated to oversee the personal injury cases. read more