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Asbestos Exposure and the Body: What Happens

We know that when asbestos fibers are released into the air and are inhaled, they can lead to serious diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis. But what happens in between that inhalation and the diagnosis of a disease? How do those fibers cause mesothelioma?


Learn more about asbestos.

When a person inhales asbestos fibers, they are deposited in the upper and lower respiratory tracts, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Click to Tweet] Because the fibers are so durable, they can hold up for long periods of time in lung tissue and other parts of the body.

Ironically, inhaling larger asbestos particles imposes less of a risk of depositing in the lungs. This is because larger particles often settle on the nasal mucosa or the oropharynx, where they are then sneezed out or swallowed, and therefore never touch the lungs. Smaller particles, however, are often deposited on the surface of the larger airways or even further down in the lung.

The CDC states that the size of asbestos fibers determines “how far into the lungs it is likely to be deposited and how quickly it is cleared.” [Click to Tweet] Even though larger fibers are more likely to be cleared, it’s important to note that all levels of asbestos exposure are dangerous, regardless of the size of the fibers.… Read the rest


Judge Rules Syngenta Corn Lawsuits to Proceed in Both Federal, State Courts

The federal corn multidistrict litigation against Syngenta over its marketing practices of genetically modified corn seed is progressing. In May, Judge John Lungstrum ordered that two of the hundreds of cases filed against the Swiss agribusiness company be returned to state court.

cornThe order is bad news for the company, according to Simmons Hanly Conroy Jayne Conroy, who serves as one of the lead attorneys for the national litigation.

“Now we have the ability to attack them in state court and federal court,” Conroy told Bloomberg BNA. “That’s always an advantage for plaintiffs.”

The case moves into the discovery phase, which could last for as long as a year, Conroy said. Currently, more than 1,800 farmers, exporters, grain-elevators and other business related to the corn-industry have filed litigation against Syngenta.

Background on Syngenta Corn Lawsuits

In 2010, Syngenta released a genetically modified corn seed called Agrisure Viptera. The litigation alleges the company made reckless and misleading statements about the Chinese approval status of its new seed, implying that approval was imminent.

For example, during Syngenta’s first quarter 2012 earnings conference call, Syngenta CEO Michael Mack stated, “[t]here isn’t outstanding approval for China, which we expect to have quite frankly within the matter of a couple days … we know of no issue with that whatsoever….”

Farmer were led to believe, falsely, that they could plant the seed and in the meantime China would approve it for market, despite the country’s previous zero-tolerance policy for imports of GMO corn.… Read the rest


New Estimate Shows Asbestos Kills More Americans Than Previous Estimates Showed

We know that mesothelioma is diagnosed in 3,000 Americans every year. We also know that there are many other diseases caused by asbestos – including asbestosis, lung cancer and others. In the past, the EWG Action Fund estimated that about 10,000 Americans died from asbestos exposure every year. A new analysis, however, found that the actual number is up to 15,000 Americans per year.

asbestosexposureAnother important takeaway from the analysis was that even after 50 years of known medical research linking asbestos to toxic diseases, the American government still can’t completely predict the number of people who die from exposure.

The analysis was taken by EWG Action Fund’s researchers who analyzed Centers for Disease Control death records between the years 1999 to 2013. The researchers identified all deaths that were attributed solely or in part to mesothelioma or asbestosis – two diseases caused by asbestos exposure. The researchers also estimated how many Americans die from asbestos-triggered lung cancer using a special formula developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Final results showed that asbestos exposure was responsible for the deaths of 12,000 to 15,000 Americans every year for a fourteen-year period. That’s anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 more deaths than previous estimates.… Read the rest


Asbestos Occupation Spotlight: Construction Workers

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. In 2013, one in five worker deaths were in construction on the job site, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).


While many of the hazards associated with construction are self-evident, the risk of being exposed to asbestos is not always as obvious for workers, but can be just as deadly.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was used in building materials and found at construction job sites from the 1920s and into the 1980s. As early as the 1930s, its use was linked to serious lung diseases like mesothelioma, an aggressive lung cancer that is often fatal.

Construction workers who built structures decades ago when asbestos use was at its height have an increased risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma. During those years, few precautions were taken to protect workers from asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma has a long latency period, so workers who were exposed to asbestos 20, 30, or even 40 years ago are only just now beginning to experience mesothelioma symptoms.

Specific types of construction workers and other workers who have an increased risk of experiencing occupational exposure to asbestos include:

  • Renovators of old buildings
  • Demolitionists
  • Installers of flooring or roofs
  • Drywaller hangers and plasterers
  • Plumbers and pipefitters
  • Insulators
  • Electricians
  • Boilermakers
  • Carpenters
  • Welders
  • Brick layers

Many of these construction workers shared common areas at job sites.… Read the rest


Real Mesothelioma Stories: Ellen Patton

Mesothelioma is known as a devastating disease that can progress quickly. Treatments for mesothelioma can be expensive because they are often highly specialized, and the financial burden can cause added stress to family and friends already devastated by a mesothelioma diagnosis. Yet, even in the face of these trials, some people still have hope.

Ellen was one of those people.

Meet Ellen

Ellen Patton was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma ellenpatton2-300x200at 41 years old.

She had consistently been experiencing shortness of breath, but – chalking it up to stress and age – put off seeing a doctor. When she finally went, Ellen was absolutely blindsided by her mesothelioma diagnosis.

She had no idea she’d been exposed to asbestos growing up and that it could cause cancer decades later. Ellen’s exposure to asbestos came from multiple sources – her uncle’s occupational exposure, her father’s home improvement projects, and a number of other consumer products.

The doctor told Ellen she had 12 to 18 months to live. Because mesothelioma had invaded both of her lungs, she had minimal treatment options – surgery was too invasive and the side effects of chemotherapy could kill her. She opted for an alternative treatment: immune therapy. The alternative treatment was a huge financial burden and a great risk.… Read the rest

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