Asbestos in the News: Issue 76

Asbestos in the News: Issue 76
At Got Mold? our goal is to keep our followers aware of asbestos related news stories. Each day, we scour the internet looking for relevant information. Here are 30 stories we thought may interest you!
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FEATURED STORIES (6)
Contractor asbestos supervision ‘not sufficient’: Telstra (AUSTRALIA): Telstra has directed contractors to improve asbestos handling procedures after a review by the telco found deficiencies in the way the fibrous material has been treated during the remediation of its pits and pipes.
Air Force veterans may have been exposed to asbestos during service (USA): Tragically, military veterans of past U.S. conflicts continue to be diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. For many of these victims, their conditions can be directly linked to asbestos exposure during their time in military service. And while veterans of some branches of the armed services were inherently more at risk to come into contact with asbestos during their service, none were completely safe, including members of the U.S. Air Force.
Asbestos an untamed and silent killer thriving on ignorance (SRI LANKA): Speaking to The Nation, CAA Chairman Rumy Marzook said the public still hasn’t been properly educated on the harmful effects of asbestos, and the lack of affordable alternatives was making it difficult to go for an outright ban on the material. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates some 107,000 workers die annually from asbestos-related diseases, mainly those who encounter it in the workplace. Medical professionals warn that prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
The Most Unusual Uses Of Asbestos You Might Not Know About (CANADA): Asbestos is a building material that is made from a collection of naturally occurring silicate minerals. It was popular with 19th century builders and manufacturers because it has a number of beneficial commercial qualities including good tensile strength, resistance to fire, affordability and sound absorption. However, asbestos has been banned by the European Union due to its serious negative health side effects. The material has been proven to cause malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma and a disease called asbestosis. Many buildings still exist that were built before this material was banned and contain asbestos in their walls and structure. In order to keep workers safe, those who take down these structures must be properly trained in the delicate art of safe asbestos removal to ensure that the microscopic fibres are not inhaled. However, you might be surprised to know that asbestos is not just hiding in our walls. In fact, during its heyday asbestos was used for manufacturing a number of products, not just in the construction sector. Here are a few of the most surprising uses of asbestos that you might not be aware of.
Apprentices threw asbestos around, inquest hears (UK): A HAMPSHIRE man died from industrial disease years after throwing asbestos around with colleagues as a joke, an inquest heard. In a statement made before his death, he said: “There were vast amounts of asbestos dust. We apprentices threw it at each other on occasions.”
Reducingthe risk of asbestos exposure (CANADA): Alberta Health Services is warning homeowners in flood-affected areas to be cautious during the cleanup and to make sure that they handle and dispose of asbestos properly. The AHS says houses built before the mid-1980s may contain asbestos materials in drywall mud, ceiling tiles, insulation and floor tiles. Homeowners should contact an environmental consultant to assess the property for asbestos and then hire a qualified contractor to remove it. The AHS says hiring professionals is the best method as the contractors wear specialized personal protective equipment and have expert knowledge and techniques to avoid exposure.
ASBESTOS in SCHOOLS (4)
Asbestos found in majority of Vic schools (AUSTRALIA): ABOUT two-thirds of Victoria’s schools contain asbestos with many locations being listed as a “substantial risk” to students, documents reveal. At the same time state government funding to remove or manage asbestos has fallen in recent years, Fairfax Media reports.
Investigation today into asbestos at BPS (CANADA): Bracebridge Public School could be filled with airborne asbestos. As per a report prepared by third party environmental consultants ECOH Management, asbestos-containing ceiling and flooring tiles once rated as being in fair condition have now been downgraded to poor condition, meaning they could be deteriorating to the point of releasing airborne particles.
BHS construction back on track after asbestos discovery: Despite delays at the beginning of the school year caused by the discovery of an unexpected type of asbestos, the Berkeley High School South of Bancroft Project is back on schedule, according to Principal Pasquale Scuderi. The ongoing construction project on the southern end of campus has so far involved installing a stadium on the east side of the athletic field, which has new bleachers standing over a sports facility building with locker rooms, team meeting areas, coaches’ offices and a weight room. A decrepit set of bleachers on the west side of the field has been torn down, as has the seismically-unfit Old Gym to make way for a new academic building along Milvia Street.
Asbestos scare shuts down Timboon P-12 School (AUSTRALIA): THE future of long-suffering Timboon P-12 School hangs in the balance after students and teachers were evacuated and the school shut down following the discovery of asbestos yesterday. As the school gates were locked desperate parents hoped the dramatic discovery will lead to urgent government action.
ASBESTOS and HEALTH (7)
New Mesothelioma Drug Tests to Begin Soon (USA): spokesman for the makers of a promising new mesothelioma drug says the company plans to begin enrolling its first clinical trial participants this summer. Dr. Joanna Horobin is Chief Medical Officer for Verastem, Inc., the developer of a drug that aims to treat malignant mesothelioma by targeting the stem cells that give rise to it. The company’s lead compound, an oral drug called VS-6063, inhibits a crucial signaling pathway inside stem cells called the Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) pathway. VS-6063 was approved by the FDA earlier this year as a ‘orphan drug’, a designation given to drugs designed to treat rare illnesses like mesothelioma.
Nurse Explains Mesothelioma Radiation Treatment (USA): Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that requires an equally aggressive treatment regimen. Typically this includes a three-pronged approach: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Mesothelioma has a complex growth pattern, mesothelioma tumors are not single, discrete tumors but rather a large mass of interlocked tumors that blend in with healthy tissue, and homing in on the cancer can be challenging.
Still breathing the devil’s dust (AUSTRALIA): Two years ago, when she was 45, Jane Krsevan finally discovered the reason for her stabbing back pains and the excess fluid in her lungs. After a frustrating decade of worsening health and conflicting medical opinions, Krsevan’s ninth doctor started asking questions about her childhood. When she told him her father was a builder who made insulation boxes for hot water units, he immediately ordered a 3D body scan and a lung biopsy. The diagnosis was devastating. Krsevan had malignant mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by asbestos. Forty years earlier, while she watched her dad cut asbestos cement sheeting in the garage, she was inhaling puffs of ”devil’s dust” containing asbestos fibres up to 200 times thinner than a human hair. So were her parents and three siblings, but it is only she who has developed mesothelioma. Appallingly unlucky? Yes. But Krsevan is by no means an isolated example. The number of mesothelioma cases is rising in Australia – which already has the highest per capita rate in the world – as the so-called ”third wave” of victims is diagnosed.
FDG PET-CT Results Could Lead to Improved Mesothelioma Treatment (TURKEY): In a recent study, researchers say a better understanding of certain diagnostic criteria could result in more targeted treatments for malignant mesothelioma. In a recent published report, doctors from the medical school at Dicle University in Diyarbakir, Turkey measured the relationship between PET-CT scan results and survival in 177 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The patients were diagnosed between April 2007 and April 2011. They had a mean age of 55.4 and most (56%) were male. Patients in the study all had FDG PET-CT scans before beginning their mesothelioma treatment.
Potential Breakthrough in Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Treatment (USA): Chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer and mesothelioma patients have come a long way, but they are still quite toxic to the body. Traditional chemotherapy drugs can often produce severe side effects and organ damage, but, unfortunately, this is the most common treatment for mesothelioma patients. Researchers continue to seek a new method of administering chemotherapy that would minimize the toxic side effects while maintaining or increasing the drugs’ effectiveness on the cancerous cells. Recently, a group of researchers from several colleges in the United States may have found new way to deliver the treatment that could make all the difference.
Can Our Own Immune System Be the Key to Fighting Mesothelioma? (CHINA): The emphasis on mesothelioma research continues to turn inward on the immune system’s own ability to fight off the disease as researchers from around the world search for more effective mesothelioma treatments. Immunotherapy, or the use of the body’s own immune system to treat a disease, has quickly become the most popular area of mesothelioma research. Most recently, researchers out of Shandong University in China have discovered a connection between low levels of the protein NUMB and a poor mesothelioma prognosis.
HMGB1 Protein May Lead to Diagnosis of Pleural Mesothelioma (JAPAN): Last year researchers from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center reported that the blood protein HMGB1 contributes to mesothelioma tumor growth and that the cancer cells actually rely on HMGB1 to grow. Now, researchers at Japan report that the same protein is also a prognostic marker for mesothelioma.
ASBESTOS in PUBLIC BUILDINGS (1)
Asbestos removal planned for CPH’s E.J. Noble building in Canton (USA): Asbestos removal is in the works as parts of the Main Street level of the west wing of Canton-Potsdam Hospital’s E. J. Noble Professional Building, 80 E. Main Street in Canton, will be closed from Friday until Monday, June 28 to July 1.
LEGAL ISSUES and ASBESTOS (5)
Board fined over asbestos at Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill (SCOTLAND): Scotland’s largest health board has been fined £6,000 for failing to clear asbestos from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill in Glasgow. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) admitted flouting asbestos regulations by having poisonous fibres in a basement plant room at the hospital.
Trial Begins in Massachusetts Heating Contractor Asbestos Case (USA): A heating contractor in the Norfolk County, Massachusetts town of Medway will face the court this week as a trial begins that will determine whether or not he knowingly exposed home renters to asbestos and then tried to bully them into not reporting his infractions.
Scrapper Gets Year In Prison For Asbestos Release: A federal judge in Grand Rapids has sentenced a metro Detroit man to a year in prison for conducting a salvage operation at an asbestos-filled building without protecting workers and the environment from the toxic insulating material.
Two Men Receive Prison Sentences For Their Roles in Asbestos Dumping in Upstate New York (USA): Two men were sentenced on Thursday in Federal Court for illegally dumping asbestos waste along the Mohawk River in Upstate New York. Dominick Mazza, owner of Mazza & Sons Inc., was sentenced to four or more years behind bars and is required to pay nearly a half of a million dollars in restitution and a one hundred thousand dollars in fines. Cross NiCastro, the owner of the site of the dumping in Herkimer County, was also charged in the illegal asbestos dumping scheme and was sentenced to three years.
Industry seeks to ease ban on asbestos import (THAILAND): The Industry Ministry will propose to the Cabinet that it phase out the use of chrysotile (white asbestos) fibres in the manufacture of roof tiles over several years instead of imposing a total ban on its import, as for some products there is no good substitute. The proposal accepts an immediate ban on chrysotile as a raw material in the production of wall panels and rubber floor tiles, as there are alternative materials. Relevant state agencies must issue regulations to impose and enforce this ban within a two-year preparation period.
MISC. (4)
Mesothelioma: The British Disease (UK): By the end of this year (2013), more than 60,000 Britons will have died from asbestos-related diseases this century. Government data reveal an inexorable rise of mesothelioma mortality since 2000, with 2,347 deaths reported in 2010, the most recent year for which figures were available.1 Worse is to come according to Lord Freud, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions, who told the House of Lords on May 20, 2013 that: “We expect there to be roughly 28,000 deaths from mesothelioma between July 2012 and March 2024.
Asbestos Among Beauty Ingredients the FDA Hasn’t Banned (USA): So this is disconcerting: Refinery29 reports that there are only ten cosmetic ingredients banned in the U.S., while there are 1,372 ingredients in Europe. Examples of ingredients banned overseas, but not here include things like asbestos and coal tar.
New asbestos agency to start 1 July (AUSTRALIA): The new Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency will begin operations from 1 July following the passing of new legislation in Parliament. The Agency will be tasked with implementing the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten welcomed the passing of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013, saying it was a historic day for Australians. “There will now be a national agency dedicated to working with jurisdictions and stakeholders to create a nationally consistent approach to the eradication, handling and awareness of asbestos,” Mr Shorten said.
Restoration Contractors’ organization working on asbestos handling protocol (CANADA): Contractors specializing in cleaning and repairing damaged properties for insurance clients face competition from general contractors who tout their expertise in asbestos remediation, even though restoration specialists may have the requisite qualifications, suggests an official with the Restoration Contractors Organization of Canada (RCOC).

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