Researchers Developing Breath Test for Earlier Mesothelioma Diagnoses

Mesothelioma is a difficult disease to treat, in part because it is aggressive and grows in the form of multiple small tumors. It spreads quickly and because of the way the tumors grow, it is difficult to eliminate all cancerous cells. Researchers are working toward developing better treatments, but some are also tackling the problem from the diagnostic end. If oncologists can diagnose mesothelioma earlier, treatments will be more effective and patients will have a chance to live longer.

Collaboration Brings Study to Mesothelioma Patients

The latest research that may help diagnose mesothelioma earlier involves identifying markers in exhaled breath. The studies are a result of a partnership between the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (IAHFAIW) and a British company Owlstone Medical.

The IAHFAIW is interested in this kind of research because its members are vulnerable to asbestos exposure, the leading cause of mesothelioma. Owlstone is a company that researches and develops diagnostic tests, including several breathalyzers used as a type of biopsy for cancer.

The Breathalyzer Studies

The purpose of the study is to determine if breathalyzer diagnostics can find markers of mesothelioma and accurately diagnose patients earlier than current, more invasive strategies like surgical biopsy. The first phase of the study will use the breathalyzer to analyze compounds in the breath of patients already known to have been exposed to asbestos and to have mesothelioma.

The researchers are looking for volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that clearly indicate the presence of this specific type of cancer. The hope is that there will be VOCs that are distinct in patients known to have mesothelioma which could then be used to diagnose or rule out the cancer in other patients.

In the second part of the study researchers will verify how sensitive and specific the test is at identifying the VOCs. They will also look at how accurately the test can give a negative or positive result for mesothelioma.

The Importance of Early Diagnosis

Mesothelioma is not just an aggressive cancer that is difficult to treat, it is also a cancer type that is challenging to diagnose. The latency period between exposure to asbestos and diagnosis is often decades, up to 50 years. By the time most people get an accurate diagnosis of this cancer, it is in a later stage and treatment options are limited. Life expectancy is limited.

A non-invasive, accurate diagnostic took like a breathalyzer could give people many more years to live. It may have the potential to screen any workers who are at risk for asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is rare, and not everyone exposed will develop it. But if an easy test could quickly sort between those who have the cancer and those do not, it could save lives.

Currently the prognosis for patients with mesothelioma is a survival time of one year or less. An early diagnosis could give these patients many more years to live. This is the hope of the new collaboration and set of studies.

First New Approved Treatment for Mesothelioma in More Than a Decade

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new therapy indicated for the treatment of mesothelioma. Using electric currents rather than toxic chemotherapy drugs, the therapy can inhibit tumor growth. The last new treatment approved by the FDA specifically for treatment of this type of cancer was the chemotherapy agent pemetrexed in 2004. The new approval gives patients living with this difficult cancer new hope.

Clinical Success with Tumor Treating Fields

The medical device approved for mesothelioma treatment is known as the NovoTTF-100L System, or the Tumor Treating Fields System. Made and tested by Novocure, the device received approval under the FDA’s Humanitarian Device Exemption. This exemption allows for quicker and easier approval of a device that may benefit patients with rare diseases, like mesothelioma.

The approval came on the heels of Novocure’s phase II clinical trial known as STELLAR. Usually, new treatments are not approved until several more phases have proven it to be safe and effective. In the phase II trial, nearly 100 percent of participants saw benefits from the Tumor Treating Fields System.

Clinical results were positive, with survival times of 12 months for patients who received only chemotherapy and 18 months for those who received chemotherapy along with the new treatment. The System also did not seem to cause any major adverse events in participants. Mild skin irritation was most common.

How the New Treatment Works

The NovoTTF-100L makes use of alternating electrical fields of low intensity to disrupt tumor growth. Researchers believe that the electrical fields and currents at specifically tuned frequencies interfere with how cancer cells divide. Disrupting this process prevents tumors from getting bigger. The device is designed to be used by patients in their own homes.

Similar therapies have already been used and approved in other types of cancer that are similarly aggressive and difficult to treat. The patients in Novocure’s phase II trial included 80 people with unresectable mesothelioma. This means that it could not be managed or treated with surgery, in most cases because the cancer had metastasized and spread throughout the body.

The Importance of New Treatments for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a devastating type of cancer that is often diagnosed when it is too late to achieve remission. It is generally considered incurable and has a poor prognosis. Caused by exposure to asbestos in the vast majority of cases, mesothelioma is especially tragic because it is preventable.

Because the cancer is aggressive, grows as small, multiple tumors, and is mostly diagnosed in later stages, mesothelioma is difficult to treat. Chemotherapy, often combined with surgery or radiation therapy, is most often used as treatment. There are very few treatments, and just a couple of chemotherapy drugs that the FDA has approved for managing mesothelioma.

Patients living with this cancer and trying to fight it often turn to clinical trials with the hope that experimental therapies will give them a chance at extending their lives. This new treatment, the NovoTTF-100L System, is one of the few new therapies that have proven to do just that. Now, thanks to the FDA’s accelerated approval, more patients with mesothelioma have access to a low-risk, safe treatment that really could help.

EPA Falls Short of Total Asbestos Ban with New Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new asbestos rule that limits asbestos imports and use but does not completely ban the material. Advocate groups are disappointed with the new rule after the head of the Agency said he would support a full ban. Asbestos is connected to serious illnesses and cancers, including mesothelioma and lung cancer.

The New Asbestos Rule

In 2016 an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control act was instituted that required the list of harmful toxic substances be regularly re-evaluated. The result of the re-evaluation of asbestos was a new rule to limit it use even further.

The EPA does not currently ban asbestos, and many were hoping that this new rule would be an outright ban. Instead, the rule states that companies have to get approval from the EPA before being able to import certain types of asbestos and products. Approval will also be required before these products can be manufactured in the U.S. The products and uses that now require approval include:

  • Adhesives, sealants, and roof coatings
  • Arc chutes
  • Beater-add gaskets
  • Cement products
  • Extruded sealant tape
  • Acetylene cylinder filler
  • Friction materials
  • Electrical paper
  • Millboard
  • Missile liner
  • Packaging
  • Pipeline wrap
  • Reinforced plastics
  • Roofing felt
  • Fuel cell and battery separators
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Textiles

The regulation also requires approval on any other building materials or use of asbestos not identified, with a few exceptions. This provides a catchall for nearly any new type of use of asbestos materials or products.

Critics Say the Rule Doesn’t Go Far Enough

While many people have applauded the rule change for placing more restrictions on asbestos use, others are disappointed. Many had hoped the rule change would include a total ban on asbestos products. Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the EPA had testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee stating that he would be committed to banning asbestos. But the new rule falls short of that commitment.

Why Asbestos is So Damaging

Asbestos is a mineral that has long been used in a number of construction and industrial applications. It comes in six different forms that can be mined from the ground. The properties of asbestos that are so useful include fire and heat resistance, flexibility, lightweight, strength, and resistance to electricity.

But exposure to asbestos fibers also causes a lot of harm. The small fibers that are inhaled or ingested by people in the vicinity of its use can trigger serious illnesses. The illness most often associated with asbestos is pleural mesothelioma, a deadly and aggressive cancer that is otherwise rare. Thousands of people have been exposed to asbestos and developed this fatal cancer as a result, which is why many are calling for a full asbestos ban.

While the new regulation from the EPA falls short of that total ban, only time will tell if the next review will be different. The next time asbestos comes up for re-evaluation, the EPA may finally decide to completely ban any import or use of this highly dangerous, carcinogenic material.

Asbestos Found in Children’s Cosmetics – Voluntary Recall Issued

Asbestos, the carcinogenic mineral known to be the leading cause of mesothelioma, has recently been identified as a contaminant in some children’s cosmetic products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning of the risks of these products and recommended that people not use them. The company, Claire’s, has since issued a voluntary recall of those products.

Child Makeup Products Contain Asbestos

The FDA announced in March that several makeup products made for kids tested positive for asbestos. The tests included three products from the accessories store Claire’s and one from the store known as Justice.

The FDA reported that it acted on information from a 2017 report of asbestos in certain products made for children. The agency began an independent analysis that recently concluded and confirmed the contamination of asbestos in these cosmetics.

Asbestos and Cancer

Asbestos is a natural mineral that was used for decades in industries like shipbuilding and construction. With a lot of unique properties, it was useful for applications that required fire and heat resistance and lightweight strength. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the researchers confirmed the link between asbestos and serious illness.

Exposure to the tiny fibers of asbestos can lead to internal damage that triggers lung cancer or mesothelioma. Any level of exposure, including small amounts in products like cosmetics, is considered unsafe and can contribute to the risk of developing cancer.

The reason that asbestos may show up in cosmetic products is that it is sometimes found contaminating sources of talc. Talc is the mineral that makes up talcum powder, a material used in nearly every type of cosmetic.

Recalls of Claire’s Products

The company Justice responded to the test results on its one product found to contain asbestos by saying that it had already been recalled. Claire’s denied the accuracy of the results, claiming there were errors in the tests and that they believe their products are safe. But, the company still decided to voluntarily recall the products:

  • Batch and lot numbers 08/17 of Claire’s Eye Shadows
  • Batch and lot numbers 07/15 of Claire’s Compact Powder
  • Batch and lot numbers 04/17 of Claire’s Contour Palette

The FDA has recommended these products not be used. Claire’s has pulled them from the shelves and asks consumers to return any they have to stores for a refund.

FDA Hopes to Improve Regulation of Cosmetics Safety

Currently there is no law in place that requires companies like Claire’s to test their products for safety. The FDA has no authority to regulate the safety of these products, but it does conduct tests and issue recommendations. The agency is pushing to update the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which has not changed since 1938. The FDA hopes changes to the law will allow the FDA to approve cosmetics before they can be sold.

Some lawmakers are also pushing for greater oversight of cosmetics. Democratic representative Debbie Dingell, a democrat from Michigan, introduced a bill after the first tests found asbestos in Claire’s products back in 2017. The bill, called the Children’s Product Warning Act of 2018 would require warnings that products have not been tested for safety or asbestos contamination, unless specific testing requirements have been met.

Until that bill becomes law, parents need to be aware that children’s products may contain harmful asbestos. Without the oversight of the FDA, it can be difficult to know what products are safe and which should be avoided, but new legislation may change that.

Cancer Vaccine Presents Promising New Treatment for Mesothelioma

Immunotherapy is a growing area of research in the treatment of all types of cancer. But for mesothelioma, which is among the most difficult cancers to manage, treat, or cure, these new therapies that harness the immune system are especially promising. They are offering new hope to patients diagnosed with this deadly, asbestos-related cancer. The most recent research is showing that a potent combination of a vaccine and chemotherapy could have good results for mesothelioma patients.

The TroVax Vaccine

A vaccine is biological material that is injected into a person to stimulate the immune system to fight back against a particular pathogen. Vaccines have traditionally been used to prevent transmission of viral diseases like the flu, but they are now being developed to treat cancer.

A cancer vaccine works by training the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. These cells have substances on their surfaces called antigens. Immune cells recognize antigens, but they need to be coached to do so. Vaccines that treat cancer maybe general, but they can also be made to target the specific antigens and cells in an individual patient.

A new vaccine called TroVax has been developed specifically for mesothelioma patients. It is a virus that has been genetically engineered to target a protein called 5T4 that is found in the cells of most mesothelioma tumors. Even the types of mesothelioma that are the most difficult to treat usually contain this protein.

Phase II Clinical Trial

TroVax has recently been tested in clinical trials. These are studies of new drugs or therapies in human patients. With TroVax, the results were promising. The researchers found that it could control cancer in 87 percent of participants with mesothelioma. In 17 percent of the patients, tumors were actually reduced in size.

The trial researchers did not just use the new vaccine in participants, though. The vaccine was given two weeks prior to regular chemotherapy using cisplatin and pemetrexed. As compared to patients who only received chemotherapy, those who got the vaccine as well had a greater chance of living longer. Eight patients in the study were still living after 24 months, a result significantly better than what is seen with chemotherapy treatment alone.

Improving Chemotherapy

Mesothelioma is very challenging to treat, and chemotherapy is the only approved treatment for it. Clinical trials like the one with TroVax are attempting to find and test therapies that can improve upon the success rates of traditional chemotherapy.

With mesothelioma, surgery is often not a treatment option, making chemotherapy the best and most effective choice for extending life. Even so, most patients don’t live longer than 18 months after diagnosis. By adding other kinds of therapies to chemotherapy, researchers hope to improve those odds.

The phase II clinical trial for TroVax was considered successful, but it is not the end of the research. TroVax will likely be moved into phase III trials, now that researchers know it is relatively safe and may provide a good solution for mesothelioma patients. Current patients will have to wait a while for this treatment to become approved, but in the meantime they can look for this and other clinical trials to join.

Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its baby powder contained asbestos: Lawsuit

Giant corporation Johnson & Johnson is currently facings thousands of asbestos lawsuits, and for good reason: the company apparently knew its baby powder contained the lethal mineral asbestos for decades and did nothing about it, according to Reuters.

baby powder

Image: [Mike Mozart/Flickr]

An investigative report released on Friday claimed Johnson & Johnson never informed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that three different tests conducted by three different laboratories from 1972-1975 found asbestos in the company’s talc. Johnson & Johnson publicly denied the findings in 1999, when a woman who filed a lawsuit against the company. She alleged the powder caused her to develop mesothelioma.

The Reuters investigation also uncovered that the company’s talc tested positive for asbestos all the way until the 2000s. Court orders prohibited many of the documents from being released to the public, but the recently-revealed reports under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) indicated that J&J talc had “acicular” contaminants in it, dated back to a lab report from the 1950s.

In 1971, a J&J executive told the company’s senior staff that its talc products contained asbestos and recommended the company “upgrade quality control,” according to The New York Times.  A few years later, another J&J executive warned that company should never assume talc mines are asbestos-free and the company’s talc product ingredients “might be classified as asbestos fiber.”

Yet, instead of taking measures to prevent risks of consumers developing toxic illness, the company hid the findings, at least according the reports.

When J&J heard about the Reuters report, they snapped back, accusing the outlet of being one-sided and defamatory.

“The Reuters article is one-sided, false and inflammatory,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. ” Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is safe and asbestos-free. Studies of more than 100,000 men and women show that talc does not cause cancer or asbestos-related disease.”

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), some forms of talc in its natural form does indeed contain traces of asbestos. Whether talcum powder causes life-threatening diseases such as mesothelioma depends on the form of talc used in products.

Not every form of talc contains asbestos. The asbestos-contaminated talc tends to be from tremolite or anthophyllite. However, studies show that even the asbestos-free forms of talc can cause other types of cancers, such as ovarian cancer and lung cancer.

The talc that contains asbestos greatly depends on where it’s located. Numerous companies have gotten talc from mines contaminated with asbestos in areas such as Alabama, Vermont, and North Carolina.

Several people who developed mesothelioma and other forms of cancer have successfully sued J&J, resulting in millions of dollars lost by the company and gained by the victim.

For instance, in May 2018, a jury is Los Angeles sided with victim Joanne Anderson, who used Johnson’s Baby Powder for years, resulting in a mesothelioma diagnosis. Anderson won the suit and won $21.7 million in the process. Just one month prior, the company lost another lawsuit after another victim sued in an asbestos-related talcum powder suit, winning a whopping $117 million.

Shortly after Reuters released its investigative report, J&J’s stock fell by 10%, which took out “close to $40 billion of its market value,” according to CNN.

Further, the report indicated that J&J demanded government regulators to block information to the public regarding the dangers of asbestos.

“The documents also depict successful efforts to influence U.S. regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc,” the report read.

The company convinced one official at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to never release the findings, to which the official agreed, and said the findings would only be released “over my dead body.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regardless of how small the amount, there is no safe level of asbestos. Although people are more likely to develop life-threatening illness after exposure to large amounts of asbestos, the risk still remains that people are in danger if when in contact with small traces of the mineral.

Around 11,700 plaintiffs have sued the company so far. Not only is the company at risk of losing millions upon millions, but its reputation has reportedly plummeted, and one of the most popular household names in and longest-standing products, J&J Baby Powder, is deemed dangerous.

The research continues to develop. Check back with MLC for additional updates.

Resources for Asbestos Victims

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or asbestos-related cancer, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more.  For additional assistance, contact us 800-793-4540.

Neighbors fight back after company leaves ‘clouds of asbestos dust’ behind during demolition project: Report

A Massachusetts resident, concerned for his health after breathing in clouds of dust following a demolition project in his neighborhood, was one of many people who complained after a demolition company did a “shoddy” job at containing and removing asbestos.

asbestos caution sign

The Lowell Sun reports that resident David Norton became concerned after a demolition company tore down a home off of Muse Avenue in Wilmington, leaving behind a flurry of asbestos dust from home siding permeating throughout the air. Worried that his health was at risk and discontented with how the project was handled, he aired his complaints to the state and to the media.

“If you look out my backyard, I’m looking at an excavator and a machine where the house got torn down,” Norton told the outlet last year. “When you tear down half a building and push all the asbestos into the center of the building as you’re tearing it down, all the asbestos just goes up in the air.”

The company, Langone Development Group, Inc., began tearing down the home last August after receiving a demolition permit from the town of Wilmington. Within the same day, however, the project halted after numerous residents complained to the Department of Environmental Protection.

“We shut the job down at that point and then required them to come up with a plan to remediate the asbestos that remained in the structure as well as take care of the material from the demolition,” MassDEP spokesperson Ed Coletta said in 2017.

Selectman Mike McCoy drove by the site last year and after looking over it, called it a “crime scene.”

“We need to make people accountable so it does not happen again,” another Selectman, Ed Loud said.

In November 2018, the investigation concluded after the state agreed to a settled fine against the company of $125,000. The amount is in addition to a $4,200 fine that Wilmington’s health director, Shelly Newhouse, had already issued to Langone Inc.

“I think this is absolutely fair,” Norton said. “I’m very happy that someone did something. Maybe he’ll think twice before he does it again.”

Newhouse, however, stated she was “disappointed” that it had to happen in the first place, but feels the punishment is justifiable.

According to Attorney General Maura Healey, who handled the case, the company violated North Carolina’s clean air law and solid waste law. Not only did the company illegally dump construction remains in a deep ditch on the property, but also left behind “visible dust cloud of asbestos in the air,” according to the Lowell Sun.

A bigger concern lies with potential asbestos exposure that can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer. Since asbestos fibers are microscopic, colorless, and odorless, residents were unable to tell if they actually ingested or inhaled the fibers.

Once asbestos fibers are ingested, the body doesn’t have the ability to expel them all, especially if these fibers were inhaled/ingested in abundance. The fibers stick to the linings of major organs in the body and over time, can turn cancerous. It generally takes anywhere from 25 to 50 years for the illness to manifest, meaning people exposed to asbestos can go decades without realizing they could be developing cancer.

If you think you’ve come into contact with asbestos, contact a physician immediately. If caught early enough, chances of successful treatment are more favorable.

For additional information on asbestos exposure and the most common ways people are exposed, refer to our article, Asbestos Exposure.

Additional Information and Resources

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Fill out our online form today to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more. For additional questions, contact us at 800-793-4540. 

Department of Justice scrutinizes asbestos trust funds, calls for more transparency so victims get rightful compensation

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is calling for asbestos trust funds handlers to provide more accountability and transparency after reportedly learning of alleged fraud and mismanagement inside asbestos trusts.

personal injury stock photo

What is an Asbestos Trust Fund?

Asbestos trust funds are a way for victims to asbestos-related diseases to receive compensation without the hassle of going to trial. Almost all victims who receive compensation through a trust fund were exposed to asbestos at a work site that used asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in occupational settings.

Companies unable to handle the mounting lawsuits have the option to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which, if approved, will offer protection from lawsuits. In turn, a judge may require the company to fund an asbestos trust with enough money to cover pending and future lawsuits. A trustee is assigned to manage asbestos trust funds and decides how much compensation each victim gets.

It seems like an ideal situation to ensure that qualified victims get rightfully compensation. Yet, according to Peter Knudsen, spokesman for American Association for Justice, there are companies claiming that there may be people who aren’t qualified for trust fund compensation engaging in fraud. It’s something Knudsen said he found “ironic.”

“There is incredible irony in the fact that an industry that covered up the dangers of a known carcinogen for decades, leading to the ongoing deaths of 15,000 Americans a year, is now claiming that its victims are committing systemic fraud against the trusts — even though no court has ever found evidence of such fraud,” Knudsen said, according to The New York Times.

Regardless, the claims caught the attention of the DOJ. The agency stepped in to ensure the process of creating new trusts and the screening process was going as smoothly as possible. DOJ got involved shortly after another company associated with asbestos, Kaiser Gypsum Company, filed for bankruptcy at the  U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

Possible Fraudulent Claims

In a September statement, the DOJ indicated that asbestos-related victims should be able to “feel certain” they’ll receive the money they’re rightfully entitled to. Yet, isolated incidents could be hindering true victims.

“In recent years, alarming evidence has emerged of fraud and mismanagement inside asbestos trusts,” Principal deputy associate attorney general at the DOJ, Jesse Panuccio, said. “Asbestos victims should feel certain that they will receive compensation when they are promised, but fraudulent claims and mismanagement call that promise into question.”

The DOJ claimed that new trust creations “lacked critical details” on how it can be guarded against fraudulent activities. The department said it would object to any trust that failed to provide details on how much effort is put into preventing fraud, as well as “how asbestos claims will be evaluated, paid and reported.”

“The Department sends a clear message that we will not tolerate fraudulent conduct that cheats asbestos victims and the United States,” Panuccio added. “This is just one action the Department will take to increase transparency and accountability of asbestos trusts.”

DOJ challenged corporation Duro Dyne, stating that the company’s lawyer was “too conflicted” to represent victims who may file for compensation. Another trust, DII Industries, received an administrative subpoena that required them to produce settlement record and prove that Medicare was being properly reimbursed in regards to trust payments.

This isn’t the first time accusations of asbestos trust funds mismanagement has arisen. In 2014, a judge indicated that a “startling pattern of misrepresentation” occurred with a trust fund for a company that made gaskets filled with asbestos. The judge said that some reported victims and their lawyers first struck enormous settlement agreements with the company then after it filed for bankruptcy, also filed claims to get compensation from the trust.

Meanwhile, during a Statement of Interest, Panuccio made it clear that no form of fraud will be tolerated going forwared.

“The Department sends a clear message that we will not tolerate fraudulent conduct that cheats asbestos victims and the United States. This is just one action the Department will take to increase transparency and accountability of asbestos trusts.”

Help for Victims

If you or a loved have mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for a large amount of compensation. Fill out our form to get a free Financial Compensation Packet. You’ll learn about the top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file a claim for the asbestos trust funds, and more. If you need additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.

New study shows one-third of schools in the U.S. still contain asbestos

A  comprehensive study regarding asbestos and schools has found that around one-third of the schools in the United States contains asbestos.

school classroom

The Los Angeles Times reports that the study came from the staff of senator Edward J Markey of Massachusetts. Marquis, of the Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight, investigation into the schools across the nation to ascertain which buildings contain the harmful materials and what actions need to be taken to ensure children are safe.

Although federal law requires all schools to comply with the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), there have been instances in which children have been allegedly put into danger, and reportedly at the hands of those in charge of maintaining a safe and hazardous-free school environment.

For example, according to Manhattan Beach superintendent Michael Matthews, carpet was supposed to be installed on tile in a school that has asbestos. The carpet was to be used as a preventative measure so that potential asbestos exposure to be avoided. Yet, the contractors at the school ended up disrupting asbestos in the process, according the Daily Breeze, resulting in 27 violations.

Several of the school’s rooms were shut down after asbestos fibers were released. Asbestos fibers are odorless, microscopic, and impossible to detect with the human eye. Airborne asbestos fibers can be easily ingested/inhaled, then lodged within the body. Over time, the fibers attach the linings of major organs, which can lead to toxic illnesses.

“Since then, the district has worked closely with regulatory agencies and will continue to do so cooperatively until all concerns have been resolved,” Matthews later wrote in a statement. “To that end, we have brought on qualified environmental experts to assist with assessing the area and remediation efforts.”

Further, three schools in the Ocean View School District in California have been closed down because of asbestos concerns and issues. Over 1,000 students were transferred out of their schools, which ended up costing the district around $18 million.

Were the children harmed before they were uprooted from their school? In many instance, it’s impossible to tell if people have been affected by asbestos immediately. Typically, diseases that are a result of asbestos exposure can take anywhere from 30 to 50 years to surface.

Some of the key findings in the study include:

  • States may not be monitoring and addressing asbestos issues and concerns in schools as outlined in the AHERA.
  • There have been very few instances in which school districts are being held accountable for violating AHERA.
  • States are not reporting the record-keeping activity required, which shows each school district’s adherence to AHERA.
  • States are not sharing information with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The study indicated that new rules need be implemented and acts need to be amended to ensure that children are safe.

“The public deserves access to information about where asbestos can be found in products, school buildings, and elsewhere to empower the public to avoid preventable asbestos exposures,” the study reads. “The Asbestos Information Act of 1988, which required a one-time publication of asbestos-containing products, needs to be amended to provide consumers with access to current information about asbestos-containing products.”

AHERA must also be strengthened to require the EPA to evaluate states’ AHERA programs every ten years; require the states to communicate information to the EPA on their progress with implementation; and increase funds available for AHERA enforcement. Continued research and outreach is needed to improve public awareness of the danger of asbestos exposure.”

Numerous industries have already banned the use of asbestos in completely after learning of its health hazards. Yet, many of the nation’s schools still contain the harmful mineral, which can result in life-threatening diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and asbestos-related lung cancer. And if states and schools aren’t following the required procedures and rules of AHERA, more and more children could be at risk.

The study suggests that around 34% of students in the United States have been subjected to possible asbestos exposure.

Despite numerous others studies that have proven asbestos is toxic and lethal to humans, it still remains legal in the U.S. The EPA attempted to ban the hazardous mineral years ago. In 1991, however, technicalities resulted in the court overturning the ban.

In 2016, the Toxic substances Control Act was overhauled by Congress. It was an attempt to make asbestos (among other hazardous and toxic substances) illegal in the U.S. To date, however, this has not happened.

If your child attends the school that contains asbestos, it’s important to understand the right you have his parents under the AHERA act. You have a legal right to request the school district’s maintenance records, plans, and and what her active actions the school is taking to ensure the children are safe from asbestos exposure. You also have the right to receive annual notifications in regards to the school’s yearly plans to contain asbestos and keep children safe.

For more information, refer to our article, Parents Rights Regarding Asbestos in Schools.

Additional Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more. For additional help, feel free to contact us at 800-793-4540.

Another mesothelioma lawsuit victory: Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.7B to asbestos victims

More families were victorious earlier this month when 22 women and their loved ones won a mesothelioma lawsuit against giant company Johnson & Johnson after it failed to warn its customers that its talc products could cause life-threatening illnesses, such as malignant mesothelioma.

baby powder

According to the Associated Press (AP), a jury at the St. Louis Circuit Court in Missouri not only awarded the plaintiffs $500 million in compensatory damages, but also punitive damages of $4.14 billion. The verdict was handed down on July 12.

Carol Goodrich, the company’s spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson, continues to defend the company, stating that Johnson & Johnson’s products do not contain dangerous asbestos.

“Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies. Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed.”

The jury disagreed. Several medical experts testified that asbestos is indeed “intermingled” with talc. Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products’ primary ingredient is talc. Further, the plaintiffs’ asbestos lawyers testified that medical records showed that asbestos fibers were found in many of the plaintiff’s ovarian tissues.

“We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board and that it will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer,” one of the plaintiff’s lawyer’s said. “The company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease.”

According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one of the plaintiff’s said that although there have been previous cases against Johnson & Johnson, this was the first case where jurors were provided documentation that proved the company knew the products contained asbestos, yet decided against warning its consumers.

Related Reading: Mesothelioma victims win $25M lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral,  but it’s been proven to cause fatal illnesses, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer. Yet, the company continues to deny that any of its products can cause cancer, despite over 9,000 women filing lawsuits after developing ovarian cancer.

Of the 22 plaintiffs, six of them have since passed away from ovarian cancer. Their families will receive the compensation on their behalf.

One of the plaintiffs and victims of cancer,  73-year-old Gail Ingham of O’Fallon, Missouri, Ingham, used baby powder for decades. She became a part of the lawsuit because she feels any person who uses Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder should be aware of the dangers.

[They] need to know what’s in there. They need to know what’s going on. Women need to know because they’re putting it on their babies.”

Another plaintiff, Toni Roberts, of Virginia, said she felt like “justice has been served,” while plaintiff Cecilia Martinez, of Dallas, hopes that the company “make changes to protect mothers and babies.”

One of the jurors said that the jury decided on the high compensation amount against the company in order to send a clear message.

We were just trying to find something they would feel.”

Johnson & Johnson earned around $70 million from its Baby Powder product within the last year alone. The jury multiplied the $70 by the 43 years the company has been claiming to not know their product contained cancer-causing ingredients.

There has been no indication as to whether the company plans to continue selling its talc products, although one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers said that Johnson & Johnson “should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease.”

The cases against Johnson & Johnson continue to develop. Please check back with Mesothelioma Lawyer Center for additional

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