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Six judges were recently added in Montana due to the backlog of asbestos-related cases swelling court dockets.

Mining despite fatal risks to workers and residents

After almost two decades since the town of Libby, Montana, made national headlines as one of the worst environmental mining disasters in history, many victims and their families have yet to find a light at the end of the tunnel. The harms inflicted on townspeople and visitors stems from vermiculite mining operations that initially helped the small community flourish. But the materials pulled from Libby-area mining was rife with asbestos and has reportedly been attributed to hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses.

The mine operated from 1919 to 1990 and the fallout sparked among the most protracted asbestos litigation on record. Despite national headlines highlighting the issue, cases have remained pending in the courts for more than 15 years.

Thousands of lawsuits

The outfit that profited from the Libby mining operation filed bankruptcy in federal court in a move that hindered upwards of 2,200 cases from going forward. With the bankruptcy proceedings concluded, more than 40 defendants have been identified, and the appointment of six additional judges is expected to help unclog the backlog.

The judges appointed to the asbestos litigation are said to be putting in numerous unpaid work hours to help facilitate the process. Unfortunately, the Herculean efforts of judges have not been enough to cut significantly into the backlog.

The United States has been joined by more than 60 countries to ban asbestos. However, the Montana Supreme Court expects 200 asbestos-related lawsuits to be filed annually as previous asbestos exposure manifests into life-threatening illnesses each year.

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While CAR T-cell therapy has been successful in treating blood and bone-marrow cancers, a new trial is targeting the treatment's effectiveness against peritoneal mesothelioma.

The trial is being conducted at The National Cancer Institute in Maryland and Washington University in Missouri. It looks at the effectiveness of modifying a patient's T cells to help the immune system kill cancer after a post-chemotherapy relapse.

Use against mesothelioma is new

While the Food and Drug Administration first approved CAR T-cell therapy for pediatric leukemia in 2017, this is the first time the technique has been used against mesothelioma.

T cells are white blood cells designed to fight an infection. Some cancers use surface proteins to trick T cells into leaving them alone. The T cells used in this study will be genetically modified to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CAR). Millions of CAR T cells are grown in a laboratory and injected into the patient. These cells latch on to cancer cells and attack.

The modified T cells will be dosed directly to the tumor site. They are more transient which allows faster redosing to minimize side effects. It will also use a new drug developed by MaxCyte, a pharmaceutical company in Maryland.

The trial is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2020.

The trial will use about 15 patients who have a life expectancy of at least three months and are at least four weeks from previous therapy.

Two other trials

A trial to test CAR T-cell therapy on pleural mesothelioma will start at the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia fueled by a $10 million grant from the National Cancer Society. The trial will target a protein found in 90 percent of tumors.

Another trial testing CAR T-cell therapy against pleural mesothelioma will start at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

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Could those vintage holiday decorations that you love so much be putting your entire family's health in danger?

Maybe.

Years ago, nobody thought twice about using products made from asbestos in their homes because everybody thought that the material was safe. They had no idea that the fibers act like a ticking bomb in the body -- causing lung disease, like mesothelioma and asbestosis, decades later.

During the holidays, it wasn't unusual to see people decorate fireplace mantels, Christmas trees and wreaths with fake "snow" that was actually formed from asbestos. The fluffy white stuff was considered a vastly safer option than cotton if people wanted to emulate the look of snow on their decorations.

Even if you no longer have any of the fake snow still sitting around, that doesn't mean your vintage ornaments and decorative items are asbestos-free. The asbestos fibers can still be lingering in the crevices of your decorations or settled in the boxes you use for their storage. Remember: There's no such thing as a safe amount of asbestos exposure. Even a tiny amount of residue can be a major problem.

Aside from the potential of asbestos still lingering among your vintage decor, you also have another reason to leave the old baubles alone. The attic you have them stored in may very well be filled with insulation that contains asbestos. Much of the loose-fill insulation that was widely in use by homeowners and builders until the 1970s contained asbestos or materials that could be contaminated with asbestos. It's better not to disturb any of that material that's lying around as you dig out old boxes.

If you're suffering from an asbestos-related illness, talk to an attorney about the kinds of compensation that are available for you.

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A lot of people travel during the holiday season -- and it's seldom a fun adventure for anyone. However, when you suffer from a chronic illness like mesothelioma, the difficulty of traveling takes on new proportions.

Here are some helpful tips that can get you through the trip:

1. Pack your medication carefully

If you fly, all your medication should go into your carry-on. Pills and solid medication don't need to be declared at the security checkpoint. However, any liquid medication in your possession over 3.4 ounces must be declared before you can pass through security. Generally speaking, as long as you're carrying under a 90-day supply of your medication you won't receive any extra scrutiny.

If you require additional medical equipment for respiratory ailments, like most mesothelioma victims do, pack all your tubing, power adapters, cords and other supplies in your bag as well. Never check any of your medication or equipment with the remainder of your luggage. You risk losing it if the luggage gets rerouted or mislaid.

2. Take a medical history with you

Type out a copy of your most important medical information, including:

  • Your prescriptions
  • Your drug allergies
  • Your diagnoses
  • Your physician's name, address and phone number

This can be an incredibly helpful piece of paper to have if you fall ill while you're on vacation and require emergency care.

3. Check out the hospitals where you're headed

Do you know the location of the hospitals closest to your destination? Spend some time in advance of your trip finding out what medical centers are nearby and look up their reviews online. That way, you can make an educated decision about where you want to be treated if you fall sick.

You should also find out which hospitals are covered under your insurance plan. That way, a small medical crisis over your holiday trip won't turn into a major bill later.

If you're suffering from the devastating effects of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, there may be compensation available. Talk to an attorney about your options.

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Gori Julian & Associates, P.C. | Mesothe.. by On Behalf Of Gori Julian & Associat.. - 4M ago

You probably know that asbestos is dangerous -- even lethal. What you may not know, however, is the fact that asbestos can be hiding right in front of you in numerous forms.

Asbestos can turn up in places that you least expect -- from the walls you want to renovate in your home to the tile floor that your boss is redoing in the kitchen of the restaurant you work in. It can also turn up in a lot of other unlikely places -- like a thrift shop or an antique store. Unfortunately, what you don't know really can hurt you when it comes to asbestos.

For example, asbestos can be found in:

  • Cement, including the kind that might be forming your basement walls or part of your garden's border
  • The drain pipes going from your basement to the sewer line
  • Floor coverings, including various types of flexible laminates
  • The bituminous adhesive glue used to fix floor tiles to the subfloor beneath
  • The thermal insulation used in older electrical items, including such things as toasters and hair dryers

Asbestos can also lurk in the mortar around old bathroom tiles, plaster patches and walls that were treated with spackling paste. That can become a particular problem if you use a sander on the walls and toss the fine asbestos fibers into the air.

Many craftsman and construction workers don't know the dangers of asbestos and aren't properly trained to identify items that might contain the dangerous fibers. They may be repeatedly exposed to asbestos fibers for years without realizing it -- only to fall ill to mesothelioma or a related disease decades later.

If you contracted an asbestos-related disease, talk to an attorney with experience handling asbestos-related litigation. There may be money available to help you as you struggle with your illness and provide for your family. An attorney can help you understand what choices you may have.

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The internal watchdog responsible for overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) actions has issued a report indicating that the agency isn't doing what it should do to protect students and staff in the nation's educational institutions from exposure to asbestos. This lapse affects approximately 50 million children and about 7 million adults every year.

The report, which was issued by the Office of Inspector General, was an assessment of how well the EPA was complying with the government's regulations regarding asbestos control. Under the law, the EPA is responsible for making sure that schools are carrying out the appropriate inspections for asbestos, developing plans to control or eliminate asbestos dangers and carrying out those plans.

Generally speaking, the states that are handling their own asbestos inspections are doing a far better job than the federal government. The EPA managed to carry out less than one-fifth of the legally required inspections it was supposed to complete in the four-year period from 2011 to 2015.

In fact, the report indicated that just one regional area of the EPA even had a definite strategy for handling its task. Half of the EPA's regions only carried out asbestos inspections in response to complaints. Essentially, that means that the agency has no way of knowing whether the millions of children and adults at those schools are at risk or not from asbestos and its related diseases.

Given that asbestos was commonly used in schools that were built anytime between 1946 and 1972, this is a serious concern. Any of that asbestos could be thrown into the air due to remodeling or simple age. The fibers can then easily be breathed in by students and staff -- most of whom are unaware that they're even being exposed.

While the government has pledged proactive measures regarding the issue, many fear that the steps aren't enough -- and at least one proposed new law may even open the door for new ways of using asbestos.

Asbestos exposure can lead to serious long-term health issues, even death. Anyone who believes that they may be suffering due to asbestos exposure in the past is well-advised to seek the advice of an attorney who is an experienced advocate for asbestos-related claims.

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It's been 17 years since the collapse of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Unfortunately, that's still not long enough for many of the people who were near the World Trade Center that day or in Manhattan during the cleanup period to know if they will eventually develop an asbestos-related illness.

If you were anywhere near the tragedy at the World Trade Center and its aftermath, this is what you need to know:

Asbestos was used extensively during construction.

Asbestos was banned from use in construction partway through the completion of the Twin Towers, so none was used above the 40th floors. However, it had already been an extensive part of the construction materials below that point. Researchers estimate that somewhere between 300 and 400 tons of asbestos were used in the buildings -- much of it in the insulation.

All of the asbestos fibers that were in the buildings came down in a massive cloud of toxic dust on much of Manhattan. This dust eventually sickened many workers who participated in the cleanup efforts and made breathing difficult for others.

There is growing evidence of a toxic connection.

There were early reassurances from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the dust posed no serious health threats to the public. Unfortunately, as time has passed, this has been proven untrue. Several chronic respiratory diseases and about 50 known cancers have been associated with exposure to the toxic dust.

Scientists and doctors say that it is difficult to tie mesothelioma directly to the exposure to the dust from the World Trade Center, simply because there can be such a long gap between a victim's exposure to asbestos and the onset of mesothelioma. Patients can go more than 20 years without symptoms. However, many experts believe that diagnoses of mesothelioma and other cancers related to 9/11 exposure will be on the rise in the next few decades.

Take precautions if you were exposed.

If you were exposed to toxic dust in the days after 9/11, make sure that your doctor is aware of your history. That way, you can both keep watch for potential early symptoms of mesothelioma and other cancers. A good prognosis depends on early detection.

Anyone who suffers from mesothelioma following asbestos exposure would be wise to contact an experienced asbestos attorney to discuss their legal options.

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These days, comprehensive advertising campaigns have helped spread the word about mesothelioma and asbestos. However, there are several other diseases that are also associated with asbestos -- and many people don't realize it.

Here are some of the other diseases that are associated with asbestos exposure:

Laryngeal cancer

Sometimes, the asbestos fibers that people inhaled never make it to their lungs. Instead, researchers say that the tiny fibers may become embedded in the tissues of some people's voice boxes, eventually causing laryngeal cancer. The relationship wasn't established with absolute certainty until 2012.

Clubbed fingers

Clubbed fingers, which involve fingertips that become misshapen and chronically swollen, is a side-effect of asbestosis. Asbestosis is a type of lung disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. As the lungs become more damaged, patients have a harder time breathing and often need oxygen. Clubbed fingers develop as the disease progresses and serve as an indication that the condition has grown quite severe.

Ovarian cancer

Only three percent of women who are diagnosed with cancer have ovarian cancer -- yet the disease causes the most deaths out of any type of reproductive organ cancer in women. In many cases, women with ovarian cancer may have been exposed to asbestos by their fathers, who brought the fibers home from work on their clothing. Others may have been exposed through their use of talc power as a feminine hygiene product.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from any of these conditions, seek treatment as soon as possible. Early treatment is the best way to obtain positive results when it comes to cancer treatment or treatment of related conditions.

In addition, it's important to seek guidance regarding the availability of compensation for the victims of asbestos-related diseases. Effective treatment takes time and money, and the compensation that's available may be able to help you through the process.

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Asbestos is such a well-known carcinogen that it has now been banned in at least 55 countries around the world. The United States, however, isn't one of them.

Most people incorrectly believe that asbestos products are no longer on the market. While they're not unrestricted, products containing asbestos are widely used in certain industries. Now, there are serious concerns that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will ease restrictions on asbestos manufacturing once again.

Asbestos came under scrutiny back in 1976 after the Toxic Substances Control Act was passed. Asbestos at that time had been a popular product for insulation and other building materials. It was turned into everything from floor tiles to shingles and used everywhere from factories to cars. Its versatility comes from the fact that it is a naturally-occurring substance that doesn't burn, dissolve or react to most chemicals.

Unfortunately, it also has the potential to be deadly. As products made with asbestos decay, the tiny asbestos fibers get into the air. When those fibers get breathed into people's lungs, they can eventually cause mesothelioma and other diseases. A ban was placed on the substance back in 1989, but it was overturned.

Since 2016, the EPA has been charged with reviewing the use of asbestos once again. Its current plan -- which calls for examining and tracking imports when a manufacturer says that it wants the asbestos for a new use -- seems to fall short of the original goals.

Critics say the plan does nothing to address the exposure risks from older materials on the market, nor does it do anything to track new instances of asbestos-related disease. They believe that the EPA's current stance will make asbestos more acceptable for use again -- and easier to get into the market.

Critics are calling for the EPA to take a "bright line" approach and ban asbestos outright. They say that the agency's rules are undermining efforts to communicate the danger of asbestos to consumers and protect workers.

One thing is for certain: As long as asbestos is still out there, people will keep getting mesothelioma and related diseases. If you've been exposed to asbestos in the past, make your medical provider aware, and be on the alert for any symptoms of lung disease.

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Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that can strike decades after someone is exposed to asbestos fibers in the air. Historically, long-term survival rates for the disease have been poor -- but statistics aren't everything.

Here are the things you should know when you're reading about survival rates and mesothelioma:

1. Survival rates can't predict what will happen to you

It's important not to get too focused on the specific survival rates for your diagnosis. Survival rates give you an understanding of what others have experienced -- but they don't tell your story. They can't tell you how you will do after treatment because every case is unique.

In addition, survival rates include a broad variety of individuals -- each of whom had different factors that may have affected their health long before their cancer diagnosis. For example, the survival rates don't show you how many of the people who died were lifelong smokers and suffered from other medical illnesses compared to those who were nonsmokers and relatively healthy prior to diagnosis.

In other words, don't think of survival rates as your "odds." They aren't. Your chances are going to be determined by your entire lifetime of being, general habits, overall health, ability to obtain care and plenty of other factors along the way.

2. Survival rates talk about the past, not the future

All survival rates for a diagnosis are several years behind the times. They're figures that are compiled out of the most recent records available -- but those are already a few years old at the start of any study.

Medical care is always advancing -- sometimes rapidly. There are more treatments available these days for mesothelioma than ever before -- which means the people who are most recently diagnosed are not likely to have the same outcomes as those in the past.

For example, many cancer treatments now include a multifaceted approach that involves surgery, chemo, photodynamic therapy and more, instead of the traditional "chemo only" approach. That's going to change the statistics in the future -- especially for those who opt for these kinds of treatments.

Don't allow the statistics to convince you that you don't have a great shot at survival. Mesothelioma litigation was designed, in part, to give victims the opportunity to get the medical care that they need to continue living full, productive lives -- despite their diagnosis.

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