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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.


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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Holiday Storage in Attics and Asbestos Exposure: What to Know

It’s that time of year – people are heading upstairs to the attic or other storage space to fumble through their holiday décor and wrapping essentials. They’re pulling out boxes, shifting large items and possibly disturbing asbestos. This is especially probable if your home was built before 1990, when asbestos insulation was common.

From 1919 to 1990, a mine near Libby, Montana, was the source of over 70 percent of all vermiculite sold in the United States. The insulation, which was often used in attic floors and walls, was usually sold under the brand name Zonolite. In older attics today, you may still come across asbestos insulation, and disturbing it can put you at risk for mesothelioma.

So, what can you do to avoid releasing asbestos particles into the air and putting yourself in danger? Take a look at the attics and asbestos exposure infobyte below:

attics and asbestos exposure

Keep yourself safe this holiday season by being knowledgeable about attics and asbestos exposure and preventing its devastating result, mesothelioma. No level of asbestos exposure is safe.

Read about other asbestos-containing products.

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Famous Mesothelioma Deaths: Paul Gleason

Paul Gleason’s iconic lines “Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns” solidified him as the cantankerous antagonist in The Breakfast Club. While his role as the principal guarding rebellious 80s teens is his most famous, his death from pleural mesothelioma is less well known. Aside from being a casualty of asbestos exposure, Gleason was an actor with a full career on top of his dedicated family life and enthusiasm for sports.

Acting was not always his dream, though. Raised in New Jersey, the free-spirited Gleason ran away at the age of 16 and hitchhiked across the east coast playing baseball as he traveled. He settled down in Florida and attended Florida State University as a college football player.

After his time as a football player, Gleason joined the minor leagues in baseball and played two seasons professionally with the Cleveland Indians. Though he did not stay in professional sports, Gleason often participated in celebrity golf outings where he was known to meet with fans, conversing and signing autographs.

Gleason’s Acting Career and Mesothelioma Battle

Despite his reputation of friendliness to fans, many of his roles were that of the hard headed antagonist. He appeared in over 60 films. Some of the famous films and television shows you can find Gleason in include Trading Places, The Breakfast Club, Friends, Seinfeld and Die Hard.

paul gleason

In fact, it was during a standstill in his baseball career Gleason began to consider the idea of an acting career. This idea became reality when he was inspired to pursue his dream by his friend, and famous writer, Jack Kerouac. He developed his skills with Lee Strasberg, the acclaimed father of method acting. Gleason published a book of poetry shortly before his death, establishing yet another area of talent for the athlete and actor.

Sadly, Gleason met his untimely end at the age of 67 in May 2006.

Shannon Gleason-Grossman, his daughter, said of his death to mesothelioma;  “He was an athlete, an actor and a poet. He gave me and my sister a love that is beyond description that will be with us and keep us strong for the rest of our lives.”

He died abruptly in Burbank, California just three weeks after his pleural mesothelioma diagnosis. It is believed that Gleason was exposed to asbestos as a teenager working on building sites with his father.

Read more famous deaths from asbestos exposure and mesothelioma to learn about other actors, singers, and athletes who have suffered from mesothelioma.

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