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Asbestos Occupation Spotlight: U.S. Navy Veterans


More than 30 percent of Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma were navy_ship-200x300first exposed to asbestos during their time in the military. While veterans from all branches of the military were exposed to asbestos, Navy veterans account for an unusually high number of mesothelioma victims.

Nearly every ship and shipyard built by the U.S. Navy was constructed with asbestos materials. Asbestos was so common on navy ships and submarines because of its strength and heat-resistance properties – properties ideal for engine and boiler rooms that generate excessive amounts of heat.

There were many other parts of the ship where the insulation properties of asbestos were highly sought after including weapons rooms, mess halls and sleeping quarters. More than 300 asbestos products and materials were used in the United States military. Asbestos covered the pipes, pumps, and motors that helped run the ship. It was in the ceilings, walls, and floors. Asbestos was everywhere from bow to stern. Listed below are just a few of the asbestos products used on seagoing vessels:

  • Boiler insulation
  • Deck coverings
  • Cables
  • Grinders
  • Valves
  • Gaskets
  • Tubes
  • Pumps
  • Distillers
  • Cement
  • Rope
  • Fireproof doors and hatches
  • Adhesives
  • Packing material

Navy veterans who frequently came into contact with these materials during ship construction or routine maintenance could have been exposed to asbestos. Because below-deck areas have poor ventilation, Navy veterans working in these areas were at an especially high risk if asbestos fibers were disturbed and made airborne.

The Navy stopped producing ships ridden with asbestos in the early 1970s, but the vessels that already had asbestos still remained in use for many years after.

Given mesothelioma’s latency period of about 20 to 50 years, many Navy veterans are still being diagnosed with the horrible disease today. It is important for veterans to understand how they were exposed to asbestos during their service, so they can be prepared to take action now.

Simmons Hanly Conroy has been working with Navy veterans affected by mesothelioma for over a decade. We are familiar with the laws specific to military veterans, and we use our experience to fight for your rights. If you are a Navy veteran battling mesothelioma, please contact us today for a free case consultation.

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How to Keep a Lookout for Asbestos During Spring Cleaning This Year


As a homeowner, you may be getting ready to start your spring cleaning for the year. This may include general home maintenance, like washing windows, cleaning out your garage, or getting your carpets professionally cleaned. For some people, however, spring cleaning may include more thorough projects like home renovations or repairs.

asbestos exposureIf your home was built prior to the 1990s, it’s important to know where you might come into contact with asbestos as you spring clean. Here are a couple of examples to keep in mind:

  • Cleaning out the attic
    Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation, and that insulation can often be found in attics. Asbestos insulation was often used in attic floors and walls and was usually sold under the brand name Zonolite. In older attics today, you may still come across asbestos insulation, and disturbing it by shifting boxes or attempting to remove it yourself can put you at risk for mesothelioma.
  • Outdoor home renovations
    Asbestos siding was once very popular because of its fire-resistant capability. If your home has older siding and you’re going to be tearing it down this spring, be aware that it might contain asbestos and therefore require removal from a certified asbestos professional. Even if you’re not positive whether the siding contains asbestos, do not take it down on your own.
  • Indoor cosmetic changes
    Spring is the perfect time of year to freshen up the inside of your home, as well. For older homes, interior renovations could result in toxic exposures. For example, many older homes may contain textured ceilings (also known as popcorn or cottage cheese ceilings) that have asbestos. Asbestos may be present in textured paint and patching compounds used on walls and ceilings. Its use in these products was banned in 1977, but it may still exist in homes built prior to this date.
  • Home maintenance
    You may be needing to replace some of the bigger necessities in your home, like water heaters or the furnace. Remember that hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material. Additionally, oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.

As you spring clean your home, take into consideration the age of your home and the different areas you are cleaning, renovating or maintaining. Could it contain asbestos? If the answer is yes or maybe, do not hesitate to seek help from an experienced asbestos removal professional. All asbestos products need to be properly disposed of to prevent exposure and the distribution of fibers throughout other areas of your home.

For more information, visit the asbestos exposure section of our website.

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Stopping the Spread of Preventable Cancers


As noted on their website, Public Health is committed to bringing today’s most pressing local, national and global health issues to the forefront of public discourse.

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Simmons Hanly Conroy and Public Health agree that one of those most pressing health issues is cancer, specifically preventable cancer. Because treating cancer can be an immense physical, emotional and financial challenge, the best approach we can take in dealing with cancer is to prevent it altogether. In fact, the World Health Organization states that at least one-third of cancers are preventable.

As demonstrated in Public Health’s guide and short animated video, “Cancer in America,” the global cancer rate is expected to hit 25 million a year over the next 20 years – that’s a 70 percent increase. Most surprising, is that of those 25 million cases, 23.8 million could be prevented by simple lifestyle changes.

While not mentioned in the guide and short video, asbestos-related diseases are part of the fully preventable cancer group. According to the World Health Organization, over 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, which are fully preventable.

Asbestos is one of the most widespread carcinogens in the world, and while people mainly contract asbestos-related diseases through occupational exposure, exposure can also occur in settings such as homes and schools. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and there are less hazardous substitutes for asbestos that we could be using. More than 50 countries have already banned asbestos use and others would be wise to follow.

Together with Public Health, Simmons Hanly Conroy advocates increasing the amount of attention given to cancers for which avoidable exposures play a determining role in diagnosis. To learn more about asbestos exposure and prevention, click here.

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VIDEO: Corporate Companies Knew Asbestos Was Deadly


Asbestos use in America has been called one of the largest man-made epidemics in U.S. history. This is because the health dangers of asbestos have been known for centuries – in fact, health conditions resulting from asbestos exposure were noted as early as the year 100. Contrary to this realization, asbestos use was only just getting started.

As years passed, asbestos use increased. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, companies were using asbestos in their products – the mineral was praised for its fireproofing abilities – despite knowing that inhalation of asbestos particles could lead to respiratory problems. Those same companies hid any illness among employees exposed to asbestos. They also failed to provide workers with protective gear designed to prevent inhalation of the asbestos fibers.

Instead of preventing the asbestos exposure or providing protective gear to employees, executives quietly offered compensation to those dealing with health problems from exposure that occurred while on the job. This forced employees to keep quiet about the underlying cause of their illness.

This behavior lasted for years and affected thousands of workers across the country. Due to the latency period associated with mesothelioma, men and women who were wrongly exposed to asbestos continue to be diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases today.

See what else our mesothelioma lawyers have to say about the corporate asbestos cover-up that affected the lives of so many Americans. Watch the video below:

They Knew… from Simmons Hanly Conroy on Vimeo.

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Detoxifying Asbestos Brakes in California and Washington


More often than not, when I say that I represent people who suffer from asbestos-related cancer, the response that I get is: How can people still be getting cancer from asbestos? Hasn’t asbestos been outlawed for decades now?

There are two reasons why about 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma, or asbestos-caused cancer, each year. The primary reason is that it typically takes between 20 and 50 years from the time a person is first exposed to asbestos until that person is diagnosed with cancer.

asbestos brake lawsThe other reason may surprise you: Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission began banning certain asbestos-containing products in 1973, asbestos in many industrial and consumer products has never been completely prohibited in the United States. Click here to see a list of asbestos-containing products not banned.

For example, asbestos is still used in the manufacture of automatic transmission components, clutch facings, disk brake pads, drum brakes linings, brake blocks, and automotive gaskets. While most auto manufactures have not used asbestos in brakes for some time now, a percentage of the brake products sold as replacement parts in the aftermarket still contain asbestos. Routine vehicle maintenance can expose even “shade tree” mechanics to asbestos in amounts that can cause mesothelioma, if proper precautions are not taken to avoid inhaling dust during such work.

In 2010, with the intent to reduce the release of harmful substances into groundwater and other parts of the environment, Washington and California became the first states in the nation to enact laws that phase out the use of asbestos and other toxic materials in automotive friction products.

Under the Washington’s Better Brakes Law and California’s Motor Vehicle Brake Friction Materials Law, Cal Health & Safety Code Section 25250.60(c), manufacturers may not sell motor vehicle brake friction materials that contain more than the following trace amounts of the following materials:

  • Cadmium exceeding 0.01% by weight
  • Chromium (VI) salts exceeding 0.1% by weight
  • Lead exceeding 0.1% by weight
  • Mercury exceeding 0.1% by weight
  • Asbestos exceeding 0.1% by weight

They must also certify and mark their products as meeting these restrictions. Companies found to be in violation will be fined $10,000 per violation. A violation also would be a crime under existing hazardous waste control laws.

These requirements became enforceable in California on January 1, 2014, and in Washington on January 1, 2015. California has not yet adopted regulations clarifying the accepted method for testing the products, the certification process, nor the contents of the mark, but California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control has been engaged in the process since early last year and hopes to issue formal regulations later this year. Meanwhile, manufacturers must comply with Washington’s regulations, and DTSC intends to model California’s standards after Washington’s to make compliance easier for industry.

What Asbestos Brake Laws Mean for You

The good news for consumers is that the impact of these laws has already spread beyond the borders of these two west coast states. At the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo in November, the auto industry announced that it would be entering into an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) to adhere to standards nationwide that are modeled on those established in the Washington and California laws. (Presumably, this agreement will not contain a $10,000-per-violation penalty.)

Copper is highly toxic to fish and has been found to cause gastrointestinal and liver problems for humans. So it’s great that strides are being made to reduce the amount of this heavy metal in the environment.

But for my clients and me, there is a certain irony in the fact that industry is calling the nationwide measure the “Copper-Free Brake Initiative.” This title does nothing to educate the public that as long as asbestos-containing products are still in use, asbestos continues to pose a threat to national health.

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