August 24, 2004

Final meeting on EPA asbestos test plans

Tonight will be the last of three public meetings by federal environmental officials to tell El Dorado County residents about plans to conduct tests crucial to assessing the potential for exposure to naturally occurring asbestos.

Several hundred people, mostly El Dorado Hills residents, attended two public meetings last week in Folsom. The audiences learned the particulars on naturally occurring asbestos and why their foothill community will be the focus of tests.

News Source:  |  Published: August 24, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Especially dangerous asbestos found at state park

SPRINGFIELD -- With virtually no public notice, the state shut down and reopened a portion of the shoreline at Illinois Beach State Park earlier this month after finding a type of asbestos debris that can be especially harmful to humans.

News Source: Chicago Sun-Times  |  Published: August 24, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Asbestos cleared from Zimmerman

Zimmerman Library turned its ventilation fans back on Wednesday when the west wing of the library was given a clean bill of health after its asbestos-removal project was completed.

News Source: Daily Lobo  |  Published: August 24, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Asbestos Removal Displaces Most Warner Hall Workers

Warner Hall has been scheduled for asbestos abatement starting immediately and causing the relocation of most of the building's 150 occupants.

A product of the era of its construction, the asbestos in Warner Hall serves as insulation, primarily in ceilings.

News Source: The Tartan  |  Published: August 24, 2004  |  Read Full Story

FDA Approves Lilly's Alimta (pemetrexed) for the Second-Line Treatment of Advanced Lung Cancer

INDIANAPOLIS - Today, Eli Lilly and Company's anti-cancer drug Alimta® (pronounced: "uh-LIMB-ta") received its second U.S. approval in 2004. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval for Alimta for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer in previously treated patients. In February, Alimta was approved, in combination with cisplatin (a common chemotherapy agent), for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer often associated with asbestos exposure.

News Source:  |  Published: August 24, 2004  |  Read Full Story

EPA Will Test for Asbestos at El Dorado Hills Sites

The Environmental Protection Agency will begin testing asbestos exposure levels this week at several sites in El Dorado Hills.

News Source: KXTV - News10  |  Published: August 24, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Abestos at state beaches

An area encompassing the far north section of the Illinois Beach State Park and the southern part of North Point Marina were closed off earlier this month because the state found friable asbestos containing material on the beaches along Lake Michigan.

This is the first time the state has said it has found friable asbestos material on the beach. Friable means the material is easily broken apart, allowing the asbestos to become airborne. The Centers for Disease Control warns that airborne asbestos is dangerous because one fiber in the lungs can lead to potentially deadly cancerous growth.

News Source:  |  Published: August 24, 2004  |  Read Full Story

U.S. EPA fines Santa Barbara construction company for asbestos violations

SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday fined Blankenship Construction Inc. $5,000 for asbestos violations during demolition work on structures located on Bath Street in Santa Barbara in 2001.

The company was fined failing to notify the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District prior to the work at 207-213 Bath Street in November 2001 as required by federal law.
"Asbestos removal is hazardous work and must be done in a manner to minimize any threat to workers or the public," said Deborah Jordan, the EPA's air division director for the Pacific Southwest region.  "Notification must be made to the local air quality authority so inspectors can ensure asbestos fibers are not released to the outside air."

Federal asbestos national emission standards requires that notification for demolitions be made to the local delegated air district 10 days prior to the start of demolition.  Following an investigation by the Air Pollution Control District,  inspectors determined the structures were demolished without the required notification.

Asbestos fibers in the air are considered a hazardous air pollutant by the EPA.   The potentially devastating health effects of exposure to asbestos demonstrate the need for professional handling of asbestos during demolition or removal operations.  Yesterday's fine is for notification violations only.  The EPA is unable to determine whether asbestos fibers were released during the work.

The EPA has set basic work standards for asbestos removal and disposal to protect the general public.  To enforce these standards, inspectors must know when renovations and demolitions occur.  The lack of notice in this case meant that inspectors could not conduct inspections of the active demolition to determine the company's compliance with asbestos regulations.

Asbestos has been used in building materials, paper products, plastics, and other products. Exposure mainly occurs in indoor air where it may be released from these materials. Effects on the lungs are a major health concern from asbestos, as long-term exposure to asbestos in humans via inhalation can result in a lung disease termed asbestosis or cancer.

News Source: EPA  |  Published: August 24, 2004  |  Read Full Story

August 18, 2004

Bankruptcy Judge Puts Brakes on Asbestos Claims

A Southern District of New York bankruptcy judge Tuesday issued orders that effectively bar tens of thousands of asbestos claims nationwide and provide a fund of about $500 million to pay claims against Travelers Indemnity Co. that relate to the bankruptcy of the Johns-Manville Corp.

News Source: New York Law Journal  |  Published: August 18, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Clues sought in collapse of theater ceiling

Mill Valley officials are investigating whether the chunks of plaster and dust that fell on an audience at the 75-year-old Sequoia theater this week contain asbestos fibers, which have been linked to lung cancer and other diseases.

News Source: Marin Independent Journal  |  Published: August 18, 2004  |  Read Full Story

NY Judge Orders $500 Million Fund for Asbestos Claims

A Southern District bankruptcy judge yesterday issued orders that effectively bar tens of thousands of asbestos claims nationwide and provide a fund of about $500 million to pay claims against Travelers Indemnity Company that relate to the bankruptcy of the Johns-Manville Corp.

News Source: New York Lawyer  |  Published: August 18, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Airborne asbestos the real concern

We recently made a purchase offer on a 60-year old house. When we received the Form 17 property disclosure statement from the listing agent, we discovered that the house has asbestos siding that has been painted.

We've heard a lot of horror stories about asbestos. Is this siding dangerous?

News Source: HeraldNet  |  Published: August 18, 2004  |  Read Full Story

EPA to test kids' asbestos exposure

Starting next month in El Dorado Hills, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to conduct the first tests designed to gauge residents' exposure to naturally occurring asbestos, particularly those of children at play, internal records obtained by The Bee show.

News Source:  |  Published: August 18, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Sen. Feinstein Offers Asbestos Fund Compromise

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Draft legislation that aims to bridge the gap between competing Senate plans for a U.S. asbestos compensation fund is being circulated by California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The California Democrat's bill assumes a fund of $140 billion to $144 billion, depending on whether existing compensation trusts are brought into the plan, according to a summary sent to Reuters on Friday.

News Source: Reuters  |  Published: August 18, 2004  |  Read Full Story

August 08, 2004

Waking up to dormant asbestos illnesses

Lee Brackett says a lifetime of "bad work choices" have made him sick.

From service as an engine room repairman on a U.S. Navy destroyer to working as a car mechanic, Brackett unknowingly inhaled asbestos for more than 40 years.

News Source: Sentinel and Enterprise  |  Published: August 8, 2004  |  Read Full Story

EPA halts asbestos removal method

The Environmental Protection Agency reversed course Friday and permanently banned the use of a controversial demolition method near Lambert Field that critics say increased the risk of exposure to potentially deadly asbestos fibers.

News Source:  |  Published: August 8, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Widow wins battle for asbestos payout

A CARING wife who suffered while her husband slowly died from an asbestos-related illness has won a major compensation claim.

Patricia King fought a long battle against her husband's former employer, Norwich-based George Mixer and Company after he died from mesothelioma.

News Source: Evening News 24  |  Published: August 8, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Convicts Doing Capitol Restoration Dirty Work

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Convicts hoping to learn new skills and are doing some of the dirtiest work for Utah's Capitol restoration.

Prisoners who are nearing their parole dates are earning good-behavior points working for Utah Corrections Industries, removing asbestos, demolishing walls and moving boxes to get started on the Capitol's $200 million renovation.

News Source: KSL News  |  Published: August 8, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Senate Leader Raises Doubts On Asbestos Plan

WASHINGTON AUG 04, 2004 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has raised doubts about a Democratic proposal that would leave some asbestos claims in court while setting up a victims' compensation fund, a letter circulated on Tuesday said.

News Source:  |  Published: August 8, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Concerns Over Biased Experts in Asbestos Lawsuits

Expert-witness physicians who specialize in interpreting chest x-rays for plaintiffs in lawsuits claiming asbestos-related injury greatly overstate their findings, compared with independent readers interpreting the same films without knowing their source, reports the August issue of Academic Radiology, published by Elsevier on behalf of the Association of University Radiologists.

In a study of 492 chest x-rays obtained by plaintiffs' lawyers and entered as evidence in lawsuits against former employers, the original interpreters claimed to find evidence of possible asbestos-related lung damage in 95.9 percent of cases. In contrast, when the same x-rays were re-read by six unbiased physicians, the abnormality rate was only 4.5 percent.(1)

An accompanying editorial remarked on the study's possible impact on thousands of pending claims for billions of dollars against hundreds of companies.(2) More than 60 U.S. companies have taken voluntary bankruptcy to protect their assets against asbestos-related lawsuits.

The study was performed by Drs. Joseph N. Gitlin and Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, together with Leroy L. Cook and Otha W. Linton. The editorial was written by Dr. Murray Janower of Wellesley, Mass., past chairman of the American College of Radiology Committee on Ethics, and Dr. Leonard Berlin of Skokie, Ill., author of a leading book on radiology and the law. Dr. Gitlin and Mr. Linton will discuss their findings in a telephone press conference on Wednesday, August 4, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

"The magnitude of the differences between the interpretations by initial (plaintiffs') readers and the six consultants is too great to be attributed to interobserver error," the study authors asserted. "There is no support in the world literature on x-ray studies of workers exposed to asbestos and other mineral dusts for the high level of positive findings recorded by the initial readers in this report."

Federal programs providing for workmen's compensation for coal miners and asbestos workers require medical evidence of changes in the lungs that can be attributed to occupational dust exposures. Chest x-rays, which can be interpreted by more than one reader, are considered the most objective type of evidence. Physicians interpreting occupational chest x-rays are required to follow the International Labor Office (ILO) classification system, which uses a 12-point scale to describe the presence and extent of dust in the lungs. Small bright spots (opacities) on x-rays may represent scars in the lung from asbestos, coal, silica, or other mineral dusts.

A separate federal program, administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, provides a test for physicians to qualify as expert readers, termed "B-readers." In the new study, both the plaintiffs' experts and the independent panel were qualified B-readers.

The ILO system allows readers to state that a film is completely free of any adverse changes. The plaintiffs' readers asserted that every one of the 492 films showed some harmful change. In contrast, the review panelists said that only 37.9 percent were completely free of adverse changes.

"There is less than one chance in 10,000 that the difference noted between the two groups of readers is due to chance alone," the study authors asserted. The authors of the editorial pointed out that many past studies have reported interobserver disagreements, some as high as 30 percent. "However, the fact is that none of these previously published studies have shown variations to the same extent " as the new study.

The study "raises considerable concern as to whether interpretations of chest radiographs rendered by B-reader radiologists acting as expert witnesses and offered as testimony in asbestos-related litigation is non-partisan and clinically accurate," wrote Drs. Janower and Berlin. "(T)he article contains data that is as disquieting as it is startling."

News Source: Business Wire  |  Published: August 8, 2004  |  Read Full Story

CDC Warns of Surge In Asbestosis Deaths

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says deaths from asbestos exposure will continue to rise over the next 10 years. In 2000, the number of Americans who succumbed to asbestosis, a disease caused by inhalation of asbestos particles, rose to 1,493, compared with 77 cases in 1968.

News Source: Business & Legal Reports  |  Published: August 8, 2004  |  Read Full Story

Senate GOP leader rejects asbestos compromise

Washington, DC, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has rejected a compromise plan on asbestos legislation offered by his Democratic counterpart.

News Source: Washington Times  |  Published: August 8, 2004  |  Read Full Story


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