Today, asbestos is known largely as an outdated and dangerous substance. For most people, asbestos was the material used for insulation in homes, roofs on old buildings, and in a number of other industrial ways. Although asbestos fibers are certainly the harmful material we’ve all come to know, they are also naturally occurring minerals which, according to some geologists and experts, can be quite dangerous in their natural form.
Asbestos minerals exist in deposits across the United States, with the highest concentrations in the Western part of the country. Geologists and other scientists are concerned that naturally occurring asbestos deposits can pose a risk to nearby residents. In places like Libby, Montana, for example, which is home to a former asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mine, one out of five of the residents were diagnosed with asbestos-related lung disease.
In Nevada, geologists are questioning whether asbestos deposits in the state – which are unmined – could be harming local residents. However, scientists have received some opposition from the state’s health department, which restricted access to the state cancer registry after an epidemiologist conducted a preliminary analysis and found an unusual number of mesothelioma cases. The health department also reported the results of their own analysis, finding that the asbestos deposits posed no danger.
Ultimately, we know that asbestos fibers are dangerous and the cause of many tragic diseases, including mesothelioma. With the help of scientific studies and statistics, we also know that naturally occurring asbestos is more common than most may think – and that there appears to be a correlation between deposits and rates of mesothelioma. Given the risks involved, experts and government agencies should be working together to find answers, not be gridlocked in debate.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health have recently discovered 21 new cases of malignant mesothelioma among workers in the state’s Iron Range. The affected individuals were taconite workers in the region, located in the northeastern part of Minnesota.
Researchers made the discovery while conducting a study of over 69,000 iron ore mine workers. State health officials and University of Minnesota researchers’ findings now bring the total to 101 confirmed cases. Only three men are still alive.
The study, which analyzes workers employed before 1982, has found the following:
Mesothelioma rates among iron mine workers was 2.4 times higher than the general population
Iron ore workers also displayed signs of other respiratory diseases, including lung cancer
Researchers suspect taconite may be a factor in mesothelioma diagnoses
State health officials commissioned University researchers to help conduct the study after people throughout the state publicly shared their stories of mesothelioma and lung disease among former iron workers. According to officials, new cases of mesothelioma highlight the long latency period between asbestos exposure and a diagnosis – which can take as long as 20-60 years.
At the Nemeroff Law Firm, we routinely represent individuals and families who were exposed to asbestos as part of their occupations. If you have questions about mesothelioma, your rights, and how our legal team may be able to help you recover compensation, contact our legal team for a free case review.
It is well accepted in the medical community – and well documented by evidence – that both smoking and asbestos cause damage to the lungs. According to a recent article, there are some interesting relationships between smoking and asbestos exposure.
The article discusses two studies that analyzed whether people who smoked and were chronically exposed to asbestos at work faced higher risks of lung cancer:
One study from Great Britain analyzed the records of over 98,000 people who were chronically exposed to asbestos on the job from 1971 to 2005. During the study, 12% of the workers died as a result of lung cancer. After grouping workers according to their rates of exposure and smoking habits, researchers found that smokers had the highest rates of lung cancer – regardless of their asbestos-exposure levels. Workers who never smoked had the lowest levels of lung cancer. Researchers concluded that an estimated 26% of lung cancer deaths were caused – at least in part – by an interaction of asbestos and smoking.
A second study reviewed the medical records and lung health of over 2,300 workers in the insulation industry – manufacturing, installation, and removal – from 1981 through 2008. Researchers ultimately found that asbestos exposure increased the risk of lung cancer by 5.2-fold, smoking by 10.3, and both exposure and smoking by 28.4. Researchers also found that workers who had been in their positions for at least 10 years and quit smoking reduced their risk of lung cancer by half.
Both studies suggest that chronic asbestos exposure and smoking combined can substantially increase risks of lung cancer. It also suggests that quitting smoking may benefit workers who have been chronically exposed to asbestos fibers.
Given the prevalence of smoking during the time when asbestos was most widely used, our legal team at the Nemeroff Law Firm has seen and handled many cases involving smokers who were also chronically exposed to asbestos, many times while on the job. Their smoking habits, however, did not detract from the fact that asbestos is a harmful material and that they have legal rights to be fairly compensated for resulting damages associated with mesothelioma.
If you have questions about mesothelioma, your rights, or the rights of a loved one, contact our firm today for a FREE case review.
A proposed bill supported by asbestos companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is encountering push-back from a number of mesothelioma advocates. If passed, the bill – the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency (FACT) Act – would likely make it much more difficult for asbestos victims and their loved ones to pursue mesothelioma claims and could limit their ability to recover timely compensation.
Here are a few key points about the bill:
The FACT Act (HR 526) was introduced in January by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas. This is the third time lawmakers have attempted to pass similar legislation in Congress.
Opponents of the bill argue that it would significantly compromise mesothelioma victims’ ability to secure compensation. Primarly, the act would require quarterly reports (which require additional resources) from approximately 60 trust funds set up by bankruptcy courts to compensate mesothelioma victims.
If passed, the bill would also require trust funds to publicly disclose personal information about victims who filed claims. Many opponents believe this to be a tactic to prevent mesothelioma victims from pursuing claims.
For an overwhelming amount of opponents, the FACT Act creates burdens and obstacles that would ultimately prevent mesothelioma victims and their families from recovering full and fair compensation in a timely fashion. By allowing asbestos companies to request information from trusts, they enable them to constrict limited resources that should be used to further the process of paying claims.
A number of victims, families, and organizations have been outspoken in their opposition of the FACT Act and are encouraging other victims and supporters to educate themselves about the transparent attempts of big business to silence those they’ve harmed. If you have questions about mesothelioma claims and your rights, our attorneys are available to help. Contact Nemeroff Law Firm today.
“Anything that would slow a case down essentially would be a death sentence,” said Rick Nemeroff. “We were able to get this done really efficiently, which is the exact opposite of what the bill that is being proposed would do. It would be years and years before we would be able to get a case like Mr. Petersen’s filed and set for a jury trial and it’s almost an absolute certainty he would be dead before he got his day in court.”
Portions of Wilson’s bill are lifted from two pieces of model legislation promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group of conservative lawmakers.
Similar legislation has been proposed in California, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, New York and Tennessee, according to the Environmental Working Group, which has tracked asbestos legislation.
But Nemeroff says Wilson’s bill goes further than any of those other bills has gone.
“This specific bill that is being proposed in Utah is the most egregious that I’ve seen and it’s never been passed [in other states] in its current form,” Nemeroff said.
Wilson said he is willing to work on revisions to his bill if they’re needed. It is scheduled for a hearing before the House Business and Labor Committee Wednesday morning. Peterson said he plans to be there.
“I plan to fight as best I can for my fellow men who may come down with this disease. It’s a terrible disease. It works on you every day. There’s a lot of heartache with it. I can’t tell you how it works on you and your family,” Petersen said.