Asbestos in the News: Issue 31

Asbestos in the News: Issue 31
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 17 stories we thought may interest you!
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Romney’s Legacy of Worker Abandonment – Asbestos-Sickened Workers Left Gasping for Breath: In early 2012, reports began to surface about Bain Capital’s acquisition and handling of GS Industries, a steel manufacturer operating out Kansas City, MO. Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Gary Cohn, in partnership with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance (MCA), digs deeper into a truly harrowing story involving Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and the human casualties of the private equity profit model. In his vivid and comprehensive report, Cohn outlines how Romney’s then-controlled Bain Capital acquired Kansas City based GS Industries, a steel company, promising worried workers that their pensions and health insurance would remain intact, regardless of company’s future and status. In 2001, Bain changed its mind. Pensions were cut. Health coverage for the plants 750 workers, many of whom had begun showing signs of asbestos-related disease from decades of service to the mill, was also no longer their responsibility. They were on their own.
Canada waves asbestos mining ‘au revoir’: A loan rejection to the last asbestos miner in the country followed by Canada’s federal government’s announcement that it wouldn’t oppose to list Chrysotile —the type of asbestos found in Quebec — as a hazardous substance, are the latest signs of the country shelving one of the most polemic mining products once and for all. Asbestos, a mineral that several experts claim it has cost the lives and health of “thousands, probably tens of thousands of Canadians,” as AlJazeera reports Wednesday, is about to officially be part of the country’s history.
McGill clears asbestos researcher in misconduct probe: McGill University has cleared one of its former professors of wrongdoing, saying the scientist did not collude with the asbestos industry or doctor any data in decades of research into the safety of the substance. John Corbett McDonald, an expert in occupational health, studied the medical effects of asbestos on Quebec miners and mill workers from 1966 until the late 1990s. McDonald and his team published a series of studies between 1971 to 1998, the centrepiece of which was used by an asbestos lobby group to promote use of the mineral overseas and had been cited by the federal government in its previously pro-industry stance.

Cwmcarn High School: High asbestos levels, says NASUWT: High levels of building materials containing asbestos have been found at a high school which closed unexpectedly, says a union official. Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly county, which has more than 900 pupils, shut late on Friday after a structural report identified asbestos.
Asbestos threat in 20 Roe Valley schools: Pupils throughout the Roe Valley are being schooled in buildings that contain the cancer-causing fibre asbestos, it has been revealed. Across Derry, Limavady and Strabane almost 80 school buildings – including nursery, primary and secondary schools – were found to contain asbestos, according to the Department of Education. In the Roe Valley, 20 school buildings – both primary and secondary – were found to have the fibre.
EPA Helps Oklahoma Monitor Asbestos in Schools and State Buildings: In order to help reduce asbestos exposure in schools and state buildings throughout Oklahoma, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded nearly a quarter-million dollars in funds to the Oklahoma Department of Labor to assist them in carrying out asbestos-related inspections. According to a Fox 23 News story, the funds will be used by the Dept. of Labor to complete numerous audit inspections in local schools throughout the upcoming school year. The department believes that asbestos inspections are an excellent way to urge school districts to comply with the EPA’s Asbestos in Schools rules, which includes monitoring the presence of asbestos materials and their condition in schools throughout the state.
Asbestos concerns prompt a national audit for Welsh schools: All schools in Wales must provide a report on asbestos levels within their buildings by next week, following the closure of Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly last Friday. Cwmcarn High School was closed after a structural report identified asbestos within the school building. Rex Phillips, a spokesman for the teaching union NASUWT, said that he had raised concerns about the material when he discovered high levels of asbestos throughout the building during a survey of the school’s boiler rooms. Mr Phillips was concerned that pupils and staff would have been exposed to the airborne substance.
Blood Test May Spot Rare Lung Cancer: A blood test may identify the often difficult-to-diagnose cancer called mesothelioma, new research suggests. The blood test, along with a lung fluid test, looks for a protein in plasma called fibulin-3 that indicates whether a person has mesothelioma, which is often triggered by asbestos exposure, or was simply exposed to asbestos. “In the mesothelioma patients, fibulin-3 was four to five times higher than in asbestos-exposed individuals,” said study author Dr. Harvey Pass, a professor of thoracic oncology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
Colorado’s Camp Hale Closed Due to Asbestos: A former military base that was once home to about 17,000 soldiers training to fight in World War II has been closed by its governing body, the U.S. Forest Service, citing the presence of “isolated surface deposits” of asbestos on the property. According to an article in the Summit Daily, the base – which is located between Red Cliff and Leadville, Colorado – was deactivated in 1965 and given back to the Forestry Service in 1966. Eagle/Holy Cross District Ranger Dave Neely confirmed that camp was broken down around that time and he believes that the asbestos material is indeed related to the former presence of the base, noting that it was found in areas where warehouse facilities and other camp buildings were once located.
Citadel Plaza developer Threatt gets probation for asbestos violations: William Threatt Jr. was sentenced in federal court Monday to five years of probation for asbestos violations at the Citadel Plaza site. Threatt, 71, a developer of the aborted Kansas City project, had pleaded guilty early this year to improper removal of asbestos from the site. His partner, Anthony Crompton, made a similar plea a year ago and received three years of probation, plus up to five months in a halfway house.
EPA Urged to Push Forward with Asbestos Safety Standard: Montana lawmakers urged the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday to push forward with a proposed asbestos safety standard that will guide the cleanup of a mountain town where hundreds have died from exposure to the dangerous material. U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester said residents of Libby have grown frustrated waiting for a pending risk study to be completed. And the two Democrats accused chemical giant W.R. Grace Inc. of trying to cloud the science on the issue. That comes after The Associated Press reported last month that Grace pressed for the study to be delayed. The company mined asbestos-containing vermiculite in Libby for decades. The EPA’s proposed standard concludes even a tiny amount of the material can lead to lung problems. It would be 5,000 times tougher than the standard used in past cleanups addressing airborne asbestos.
Rivesville couple names 81 in asbestos case: On Aug. 9, Paul Everett Beckman Sr. was diagnosed with mesothelioma, according to a complaint filed Sept. 14 in Kanawha Circuit Court. Beckman claims he smoked one or two cigarettes per day from the 1940s until 1986, but has not since. The defendants exposed Beckman to asbestos during his career as a mechanic and laborer since the 1940s and through his wife, who worked at Owens Illinois Glass Factory, and his father and brother, who were utility workers with Consol Energy, according to the suit. Beckman claims the defendants are being sued based on theories of negligence, contaminated buildings, breach of expressed/implied warranty, strict liability, intentional tort, conspiracy, misrepresentation and post-sale duty to warn.
New Jersey companies, upstate conspirators convicted of massive asbestos-dumping: Huge mounds of debris that piled up along a road in rural Herkimer County had bicycle tire tracks running through them when state and federal agents arrived in 2006. Kids were using it as a biking play area, unaware they were scooting across millions of pounds of toxic asbestos, according to a federal prosecutor. The massive piles were made up of demolished homes and other buildings from New Jersey. They’d been put through an industrial shredding machine without the asbestos being removed first. The piles at a 28-acre site along Southside Road in Frankfort were the result of a criminal conspiracy among officials at two New Jersey solid waste disposal companies and two Upstate men, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Benedict said Wednesday.
South Beaver couple files asbestos lawsuit in W.Va.: A South Beaver Township couple filed a civil lawsuit last month in West Virginia against 86 companies, including two with local headquarters, alleging that they were responsible for exposing the husband to hazardous levels of cancer-causing asbestos. In the lawsuit, filed Sept. 14, in Kanawaha County Circuit Court, Roscoe H. and Mary J. Peters requested a jury trial on allegations the companies were responsible either as premise owners or employers for Roscoe Peters, who worked as a laborer/electrician with Weirton Steel from 1950 to 1983, becoming ill. The couple claims Roscoe Peters, 80, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare cancer that usually attacks the lungs, because of his exposure to asbestos, a silicate that once widely was used in insulation, while with Weirton Steel.
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Rock Reject: New Novel Looks at Working in an Asbestos Mine: More and more artists and filmmakers are joining the voices that keep asbestos and its residual effects in the news. Rock Reject is a novel by author Jim Williams recently released on the Fernwood imprint. The story depicts life in a northern British Columbia asbestos mining town and the book has been called “disturbing, haunting” in a review. In the story, a Toronto med student goes to work in the Stikine region of northern B.C. after his wife dies unexpectedly, deliberating taking what he knows to be a hard road in his grief. On arriving at the dusty mine, he learns most new recruits last only three weeks before quitting. The book is said to capture the crude, gloomy world of the asbestos mines and is based on the real life story of the town of Cassiar, now a ghost town. The former med student becomes a union crusader who brings up health risks and issues the company has tried to conceal.
A history of asbestos use in American manufacturing/industry: On Saturday Oct. 23, 2010, I was standing at the statue unveiling ceremony in memory of my uncle Merlin Olsen, who died at age 69 of mesothelioma—a rare form of cancer. Merlin Olsen was a star linebacker for the L.A. Rams and NFL Hall of Famer. His success as an athlete and actor made him a Utah hero. His statue was erected at his alma mater, Utah State University, by the Romney Stadium which houses the field that was named in his honor the previous winter. As I stood, gazing at the eight foot rendition of that bull of a linebacker, I was dumbfounded. How could this giant be tackled by this cancer at a seemingly young age? Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. After diagnosis, the average time remaining is four to 18 months. While working in construction at age 11, Merlin was unknowingly exposed to asbestos from dry wall. Dry wall is only one of the many sources of asbestos in American industry. The following history of asbestos use in American manufacturing/industry will unveil some clues into other possible sources of asbestos exposure of which the public should be aware.
How do you know if there’s asbestos in your walls? Build a registry, experts say: It’s one of the most dramatic moments on reality programs featuring home renovation projects: Workers begin demolition, only to discover asbestos is throughout the home they’re working on. Cue delays and a major budget increase as experts are brought in to safely remove the cancer-causing material. Does it ever make you wonder what may be hiding in your walls? Asbestos, the catch-all name for several fibrous materials that are found naturally in rock formations, was widely used for decades in the construction of homes and public buildings because of its strength, durability and other features. But researchers have long since concluded that asbestos fibres, when inhaled, can increase the risk of cancer and asbestosis, which occurs when the lungs are scarred, making it difficult to breathe.

Posted in Asbestos, Asbestos and Health, Asbestos in Public Buildings, Asbestos in Schools, Asbestos in the News, Celebrity, Legal Issues and Asbestos

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