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.
W. R. Grace & Company has already faced innumerable lawsuits filed by mesothelioma victims and others who have suffered as a result of asbestos exposure, and there are other companies that have similarly been forced to pay restitution to victims of their negligence. The most notable defendant in recent years against these types of cases is Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of the iconic baby powder product. The company has been accused of knowingly selling a product that was contaminated with asbestos, and some of the difficulty that plaintiffs in those cases have faced is the lack of science on the impact of asbestos exposure. With Dr. Black indicating that there is still much research waiting to be done on the specific impact of the asbestos in Libby, it becomes apparent that much more work needs to be done on asbestos research in general. “We could have more science and it would still be a battle. It’s the nature of the game,” Black said. “But more science is exactly what we need. We have the perfect population to perform these studies on, but to find the money? Nobody has it. In the world of asbestos, it’s tough to get a fair shake.” He added, “To lose this opportunity with the Libby population is one of the biggest mistakes we can make.”
As scientists and physicians work to provide the research that is needed, others are doing what they can to support mesothelioma victims in their fight for justice. For information on how we can help, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.