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About Michael J. Angelides

Mike Angelides is a partner of the Simmons Law Firm. Over the last decade, Mike has helped recover millions of dollars on behalf of hundreds of clients suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers. View Full Profile

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4 Major Threats to Lung Health (And How to Avoid Them)


Throughout the month of October, which is Healthy Lung Month, a special emphasis is placed on preventing lung diseases. Your lungs are one of the most complex organs in your body because they help you breathe.

Asbestos exposure can damage lung health.

The first step to ensure good lung health is to be aware of the threats in our daily lives that could potentially decrease lung health. Once you know what these threats are, it’s easier to avoid them whenever possible.

Tobacco Smoke

Not only does cigarette smoking increase risk for lung diseases and lung cancer, it also increases risk for health problems like heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  more deaths are caused by tobacco use each year than by HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined. In addition, the CDC says that if no one smoked, one out of every three cancer deaths among Americans would not happen.

To avoid the negative health effects of tobacco smoke, find valuable resources that can help you quit smoking. The American Lung Association provides a great deal of information on the subject.

Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used in many products and places. When asbestos fibers are disturbed, they can be dispersed into the air. These small floating fibers can then easily be inhaled and become lodged inside the lungs or lining of the chest. That’s when asbestos exposure becomes a major threat to lung health. Over time, it can lead to serious health problems like mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases.

You can avoid asbestos exposure by not disturbing any products or materials that you suspect may contain asbestos. Always contact a professional asbestos professional to remove the asbestos properly.

Outdoor Air Pollution

Chemicals like diesel, ground-level ozone, automobile exhaust and other pollutants found outside can damage your lungs over time. These chemicals are often found in the atmosphere in varying amounts. Breathing air in polluted areas can reduce your life expectancy, increase risk of asthma, bronchitis and cancer, and decrease lung function overall.

Avoid high polluted metropolitan areas whenever possible. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is another risk factor you should strive to avoid because pollutants can seep into your car as you sit. This makes the air inside your car up to 10 times more polluted than normal city air.

Benzene

Benzene can be found in automobile gasoline, secondhand smoke, detergents and pesticides. It is a known carcinogen that can raise risk of leukemia and other major health problems. While it’s normal to be exposed to small amounts of benzene (for example, while pumping fuel at a gas station), you can avoid major benzene exposure by stepping away from the gas pump as you’re refueling your car.

Take care of your lungs. Start to make a conscious effort to avoid some of the major health threats – tobacco smoke, asbestos, air pollution and benzene – that exist in your everyday life.

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Character Actor Ed Lauter, 74, Dies from Mesothelioma


His name may not be familiar to most, but his face is. Ed Lauter, a recognizable veteran actor who most recently played a butler in the 2011 Oscar-winning film The Artist passed away Wednesday, Oct. 16. According to Lauter’s publicist, he died from mesothelioma.

Ed Lauter death caused by mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Lauter had continued to work on acting projects until a few months before his death when his health became too frail. Lauter recently completed several films that have yet to be released. He was 74 years old.

With a long, angular face and a stern demeanor, Lauter performed in a variety of films and television shows during his lifetime. Some of his most notable roles included the 1974 comedy-drama The Longest Yard in which he played a prison guard (Burt Reynolds’s nemesis), and Alfred Hitchcock’s last film, The Family Plot, in which he played a shady gas station attendant.

Other projects he was a part of include Death Wish 3, Trouble with the Curve, Born on the Fourth of July, The New Centurions, My Blue Heaven, and many more. On the television side, Lauter appeared on The Office, ER, Murder, She Wrote and The Rockford Files.

In a 2010 interview with Cinema Shock magazine, Lauter laughed at how he was someone frequently recognized in the public for his roles.

“But sometimes people don’t know my name,” he said in the interview. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah! There’s that guy! You were in…you were in… .”

Unfortunately, asbestos exposure and mesothelioma can happen to anyone – not only Veterans and individuals employed in specific “high-risk” occupations.

As a firm working with families impacted by mesothelioma on a daily basis, our condolences go out to his family and those battling the cancer.

You can read more about Lauter, his acting career and his death in this USA Today article now.

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More than 1,100 People Have Cancer after 9/11, Says the CDC


cancer after sept 11When the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2011, they left behind a pile of rubble and dust. Asbestos, a cancer-causing material, had coated the two buildings’ lower columns. Benzene, another cancer concern among researchers, was in the jet fuel that caused the fires when the planes hit the towers.

New numbers reveal that approximately 1,140 people have been certified to receive cancer treatment under the WTC Health Program. The program was designed to help the thousands of people who worked or lived near the World Trade Center on 9/11 and have since been diagnosed with cancer.

According to CNN, these are the first numbers released since the health program was expanded to include 58 types of cancer, including mesothelioma, in September 2012. The WTC Health Program was created as a result of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was passed by Congress in December 2010.

The program provides medical services and compensation to first responders, volunteers, survivors and residents who worked near the 9/11 site. Many of these individuals were exposed to toxic chemicals, including asbestos exposure, while working at ground zero.

Benefits from the program were just recently expanded to include the responders from the Pentagon attack and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania site, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed.

A CNN article recently highlighted the health consequences linked to working at ground zero for a New York police officer named Reggie Hilaire. For 11 days, Hilaire helped out at ground zero without the use of a protective mask. Afterwards, he was assigned to a Staten Island landfill where debris from the World Trade Center were dumped.

Hilarie was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2005. Soon after, when Hilaire was 34 years old, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer that typically strikes older individuals and multiplies the body’s plasma cells to dangerous levels.

“They looked over my medical records…determined cause and effect,” said Hilaire in the CNN article. “After years saying, ‘We don’t know, we’re not sure,’ they finally said, ‘Yeah, you got it from there’”.

Read the full CNN article now.

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Shareholder Derek Brandt Analyzes Recent Whistleblower Lawsuits in Chicago Lawyer Magazine


Attorney Derek Brandt, chair of the Simmons Firm’s Complex Litigation Department, writes about the growing trend of whistleblower lawsuits in his August column for the Chicago Lawyers Weekly.

Lance Armstrong’s professional cycling team, an International generic drug manufacturer and a Swiss bank are “among a growing list of entities” being held responsible by whistleblower lawsuits, Derek writes.

He goes on to sketch out each case in order to explain how federal prosecutors are relying more on using whistleblower lawsuits to hold companies accountable. This is an advantage especially as government contracting and outsourcing grows, he writes.

“The takeaway is that whistle-blowers are playing ever-bigger roles in uncovering ever-expanding frauds. With shrinking government outlays for fraud-fighting, incentivizing whistleblowers and private lawyers to do much of the work makes good sense,” he concludes, noting that he expects the trend to continue.

Click here to read his full column >>>

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