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Asbestos-containing Crayons, Crime Scene Kits Pose Threat to Children’s Health


Earlier this week an environmental nonprofit group, the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, released a study which revealed the presence of asbestos in crayons and crime scene kits commonly used by children. Four of 28 boxes of crayons and two of 21 crime scene fingerprint kits tested positive for asbestos. All of the tainted products could be purchased in retail stores, as well as online.  The six products that contained asbestos were:

  • Amscan Crayons
  • Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons
  • Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons
  • Saban Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons
  • EduScience Deluxe Forensics Kit (black fingerprint powder)
  • Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit (white fingerprint powder)

Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer than affects over 3,000 Americans each year. According to an analysis by the U.K. Committee on Carcinogenicity, children who come into contact with asbestos are 3.5 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than young adults who are exposed, due to the long lag time between exposure and disease development.

The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees that children’s longer life expectancies increase their chances of manifesting latent diseases, as they generally live longer with toxic damage. WHO also notes that children are more susceptible to harm from pollutants because of their immature and developing organs and systems, which create “critical windows of vulnerability,” to damage from toxic exposures that adults simply do not have.

Despite the thousands of lives lost to cancer as a result of asbestos exposure, the United States still has not completely banned the use of asbestos. If the U.S. took a stronger position against this deadly toxin, maybe other countries would stop trying to sell us contaminated products.

Manufactured in China and imported to the United States, the contaminated crayons and crime scene fingerprint kits are a perfect example of the lack of oversight when it comes to the production and import of consumer products.

And this isn’t the first time it’s happened.

Traces of asbestos were found in popular crayon brands in 2000. Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded that the risk that children would inhale or ingest asbestos fibers from those crayons was extremely low, the manufacturers agreed to change their products’ formulae to omit talc, the mineral that they had used as a binding agent, which is mined from ore that is sometimes contaminated with tremolite asbestos.

And in 2007, asbestos was discovered in the powder of toy crime scene investigation kits. The powder in these kits also contained talc.

While the use of asbestos in American brands has decreased, especially in children’s products, there is no ban or regulation in place that requires consumer products, like children’s toys, to be free of asbestos. This is an alarming fact due to the way children naturally interact with some of the products tested—for example, the powder in the crime scene fingerprint kits could easily be inhaled.

Findings such as those discovered in the EWP Action Fund’s study underscore the importance of banning the use of asbestos in products. We have a duty to protect our children, who rely on us to advocate for them and keep them out of harm’s way.

Whether on a manufacturing or governmental level, changes need to be made to keep the safety of our children intact. You can help make sure that children are not subjected to the dangers of asbestos by signing the EWG Action Fund’s petition to stop sales of contaminated products.

Together, we can keep our children safe.

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Miles for Meso Race to Take Place September 21, 2013


Early registration is now open for the Alton, Illinois Miles for Meso 5K Race & 2K Fun Run/Walk. The race will begin at Simmons Hanly Conroy Building at One Court Street on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 8:30 a.m. It will be hosted by the Firm and is coordinated by the Metro TriClub.

Miles for Meso races have been held in Illinois, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Florida. Funds raised over the past four years have exceeded a total of $300,000 and have been donated to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. The race is a fun, active, educational event for people of all ages and athletic abilities.

The Alton race is considered to be the flagship event for Miles for Meso. The past Alton races alone have raised $100,000 for mesothelioma research. In 2011, organizers expanded the Alton race to elite runners from around the world. They also increased the total prize money awarded to these elite runners. Doing this attracted Olympic-caliber runners who travel to Alton to compete.

“It is our goal to continue to use the Alton race as springboard for other races around the country,” said Mike Wever, Alton Race Director and president of the Metro Tri Club, on the Miles for Meso website.

The Miles for Meso race not only raises essential funds for mesothelioma research, but also promotes awareness of the deadly cancer. Mesothelioma is one of the lowest-funded cancers by the National Cancer Institute, yet more than 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with it every year. Raising funds and awareness for mesothelioma through events like Miles for Meso aid in the efforts to find a cure for this terminal disease.

Get Involved in Miles for Meso 2013

You don’t have to be an elite runner to participate in the Miles for Meso event. This event is for people of all ages. Early registration costs $25 through August 31. After that date, registration costs are $30. If you register on the day of the race, it will cost $35.

Everyone who registers for the 2013 Miles for Meso race will receive a long-sleeved T-shirt commemorating this year’s five year anniversary of the start of Miles for Meso.

Learn more about Miles for Meso including how to register, race times and more other information now.

To learn more about the 2012 Miles for Meso race, watch the video below.

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Meso Foundation Awards $100,000 to Five Mesothelioma Research Projects


I’m pleased to share that the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation recently announced funding for five mesothelioma research grants.

Having seen first-hand the deadly impact this disease can have on patients and their families, my colleagues and I understand the critical need for research dollars for mesothelioma. Thanks to the work of the Meso Foundation that need is being fulfilled, but not fast enough. Every year 3,000 new Americans are newly diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.

A cure can’t come quick enough.

The foundation awards funding based on a rigorous peer-reviewed process. This means that all projects are reviewed and ranked by the members of the organization’s Science Advisory Board. The five were selected from a pool of 42 applicants.

This year’s projects include:

  • A study attempting to combine all genomic data of ten different pleural mesothelioma tumors and discover which genes are truly meaningful in disease treatment.
  • A study investigating how important proteins in the immune system are involved in regulating the response of mesothelioma cells to chemotherapy.
  • A study of WT1 peptide/MHS complexes and their use as a possible antigen that would help the immune system detect and kill mesothelioma cells.
  • A review of three experiments of BAP1 to character how the loss of BAP1 may cause mesothelioma to become more vulnerable to targeted therapy approaches.
  • A project to identify and validate miRNAs as novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets diffuse in malignant peritoneal mesothelioma.

The five new grants bring the total number of grants funded by the Meso Foundation to 76 for a cumulative total of $7.6 million in funding. As the Meso Foundations highest cumulative donor, the Firm has been a proud supporter of the foundation since it started more than ten years ago. However, until a meso cure is found, more support is needed. No one deserves to suffer through a mesothelioma diagnosis.

For more information on these grants and more visit the Foundation’s website.

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Simmons Hanly Conroy’s Miles for Meso 5K Coming this Weekend


We’re having a busy week here at the firm getting ready for our annual Miles for Meso 5K race, which is happening this Saturday.

This year we’ve increased the prize money for the race to more than $6,000. That’s the largest 5K race purse in the Midwest. And it’s gotten a lot of attention. As of yesterday we have over 500 people registered to attend, including about 30 elite runners.

If you’re not planning on attending, but live in the Alton area, I would encourage you to come out and watch. The elite runners, who’ve come from all over the country and even Kenya, should make for an exciting event to watch. Here’s the Alton course map, if you’re interested.

The firm held the first Miles for Meso race in 2009 as a way to celebrate Mesothelioma Awareness Day and raise awareness about mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Cumulatively the Alton race has fundraised over $50,000 for mesothelioma research. 

Huge thanks go to our Platinum sponsor STL Communications and our Gold Sponsors Clover Leaf Bank and Jenner & Block. (See the complete list over at the Miles for Meso sponsorship page.)

2011 Alton Miles for Meso Press Release

Alton Telegraph Article about Miles for Meso

If you still haven’t signed up to attend, registration will be open 7:30-8:45 a.m. on Saturday before the race at our new building, One Court St., in Alton. To learn more, visit the Alton Race page on the Miles for Meso web site.

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Fundraising Benefits Like Miles for Meso Are Important to Finding a Cure


The amount of research dollars for orphan diseases like mesothelioma is scarce. This is why benefit races like Miles for Meso, Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation initiative, are so vital to the effort of finding a cure.

This Sunday, Simmons Hanly Conroy will sponsor the first Miles for Meso of 2011 in Boca Raton, Florida. It’s organized by meso survivor and advocate Larry Davis. Four years ago, Larry was told he had six months to live. Larry believes he’s winning his battle against mesothelioma because of his willingness to think outside the box when it came to his treatment options and his love of running.

Larry Dr AlexanderNow, four years years later, Larry has run multiple marathons and hosted several events to promote mesothelioma awareness. For this year’s South Florida race, he’s recruited his physician, Dr. Richard Alexander, a mesothelioma clinical researcher from the University of Maryland Medical Center, to speak the night before the event about his research and the importance of fundraising events like Miles for Meso.

“This type of support is going to be increasingly important,” he told a reporter with the Sun Sentential. “The competition for research dollars is fierce these days.

According to the article, fewer than 10 percent of the research projects submitted to the National Institutes of Health receive federal funding. Less than one percent of the funded projects benefit mesothelioma or lung cancer projects.

Thanks to efforts by nonprofits like the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation, alternative funding is available for medical experts who are working toward finding a cure.

Visit Miles for Meso website to learn more about how you can organize your own race and start making a difference in the fight against mesothelioma today.

Watch the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s video about Miles for Meso

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