How Past Asbestos Use Still Affects Life Today

Asbestos in AmblerIn 1875, Ambler, Pennsylvania was the largest manufacturer of asbestos insulation and asbestos-containing products in the United States. Asbestos manufacturing brought economic growth to Ambler. With the growth came the knowledge that exposure to this  “miracle fiber” caused horrible disease, such as mesothelioma. Over the next 140 years, asbestos continued to contaminate the grounds, creeks, and playgrounds of Ambler.

Ambler, PA has over 3 million tons of asbestos waste left over from past manufacturing. The “Ambler Piles” (literally piles of asbestos) were the playground of many until the 1980s, and the area later became a superfund site.

In 2009, another Ambler asbestos waste site became the BoRit Superfund site. Despite this designation, this parcel of land has been proposed to become the home of a multi-story housing complex.

In 2015, the BoRit Citizen Advisory Group is still organizing efforts to properly clean up the town and keep the citizens of Ambler safe and informed. The Meso Foundation had the opportunity to organize an educational presentation on April 1, 2015. Diane Blackburn-Zambetti of the Meso Foundation was joined by Dr. Keith Cengel, and Richard Pepino to meet with community members to discuss prevention, research, treatment and more regarding asbestos and asbestos-related diseases. Diane helped residents learn about their resources and meet others whose lives have been impacted by asbestos. This meeting was well attended.

The EPA estimates that asbestos is still present in tens of millions of homes, government buildings, schools, and has also been found naturally-occurring in the soil in several locations in the United States, sometimes in very close proximity to inhabited areas. According to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 1.3 million construction employees continue to be occupationally exposed to asbestos. When disturbed, asbestos particles become airborne and are easily inhaled. No amount of exposure is deemed safe.

Contrary to popular belief, asbestos has not yet been fully banned by the U.S. government, but even if it were, the problem of exposures occurring as a result of past use continues. All individuals who have already been exposed and those who will continue to be exposed to the asbestos already present in our environment will remain at risk of mesothelioma. It is important to learn about the dangers of asbestos and where it is present in order to prevent exposure. This information and more is available at curemeso.org/asbestos.

Recognizing Workers Memorial Day on April 28

Asbestos WorkerWorkers Memorial Day is a day set aside by the unions of the AFL-CIO when we honor those who have passed either on thejob or from a job related injury. The day we also acknowledge the grieving of friends, family and community. On this day we re-evaluate our thoughts regarding safety and recommit to safety on the job.

April 28 is also the same date that OSHA was established as was the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970.  Under this Act employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy work environment.

Despite the existence of OSHA, work areas are not alwayssafe. Every day, workers are exposed to many physical, chemical and airborne hazards, which after many years, still include asbestos. Asbestos diseases claim the lives of over 10,000 lives every year. Asbestos is still present on many job sites. Job site fatalities CAN happen many years later from occupational exposures.

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation realizes the importance of reducing occupational and take-home exposures through education of the workforce. Through education, we strive to eliminate asbestos exposures, therefore reducing asbestos disease deaths. We work with trades unions to deliver asbestos awareness education on a new level, including the following: anatomy, asbestos, asbestos diseases, other cancers caused by asbestos and proper communication with your health care provider. We help you understand HOW asbestos affects you and your family.

This year, on April 28 Diane Blackburn-Zambetti will be speaking during the Workers Memorial Day ceremony in Pittsburgh, PA.

For more information about asbestos exposure and who is at risk, visit curemeso.org/asbesto.

The Risk of Take-Home Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos WorkerAsbestos does not always affect only the initial person exposed. Take-home exposure, also known as secondary exposure or bystander exposure, is occupational exposure carried from the work place to the home, which exposes loved ones to the same toxins as the worker. These exposures will play a large role in ‘round two’ of asbestos disease. These exposures venture down many pathways; through laundry, wearing work boots throughout the house, using the same vehicle for work and family, or simply hugging a loved one when returning home from work.

When discussing this topic, Diane Blackburn-Zambetti, Director of Policy and Prevention Education at the Meso Foundation, stated, “In my career as a radiation therapist, I had the opportunity to treat not only one of my father’s co-workers, but both of his daughters for asbestos related diseases in an 8 year time span.”

Take-home asbestos exposures are not uncommon. In speaking with the mesothelioma community, Diane met various individuals affected by take-home exposures. In the late 1950s, the wife of a Steelworker was diagnosed with mesothelioma and passed away shortly after. Linda Papa lost her mom from take-home exposures she experienced while doing her husband’s laundry.

One man in the mesothelioma community was a proud IBEW 1 tradesman for 40 years. On Christmas Eve in 2004, he was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain. He passed away in 6 weeks. One year later, his daughter was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.

In 2015, the work force has become more safety-oriented. This is not to guarantee that take-home exposures do not and will not occur, as mentioned above. In the mesothelioma community, it is more important than ever to educate and utilize the tools provided by the Meso Foundation to change the focus to STOP – LOOK – THINK when dealing with asbestos.

For more information about primary asbestos exposure and take-home exposure, visit curemeso.org/asbestos.

Recognizing Asbestos: STOP – LOOK – THINK

Asbestos PipesAsbestos, a group of six fibrous silicate materials, is a known carcinogen,. Over the last decade, the U.S. imported over 8 million pounds of raw asbestos through our ports. Contrary to popular belief, asbestos has not yet been banned in the United States. But even if we were to see a ban on asbestos in the next few years, the problem would not be solved. Because of the mineral’s prolific use in the past, and its natural occurrence in some areas of the country, people will still be exposed, and we will still see cases of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma. This is why proper identification, remediation, and abatement of asbestos are crucial in minimizing future exposures, therefore minimizing disease development

If you are working on your home or in a potentially contaminated building, it is important to know beforehand whether or not asbestos is present. Before swinging the hammer or starting any project, consider the following: STOP – LOOK – THINK.

The STOP – LOOK – THINK philosophy is to instill safety in all areas of our lives. We need to avoid taking immediate action and instead focus on taking a step back and considering consequences. This is already an established way of thinking in trades workers, but we need to extend this mindset to homeowners, white-collar professionals, teachers, and so on.

STOP to take a mental inventory of everything around you. Know how to recognize harmful products that need further investigation. Asbestos is classified as a hazardous material, and specific policies must be followed for removal and waste.

LOOK around and determine if any materials could contain asbestos. If you think it is asbestos, it is considered asbestos until proven otherwise.

THINK about the consequences of your decisions. If you start working, is there a chance you will expose yourself and others around you to asbestos?

Asbestos may likely be present in the following areas:

  • Homes and buildings built prior to 1980, especially between 1930 and 1950, may contain asbestos
  • Roofing and siding shingles that may be made of asbestos cement
  • Sound proofing and decorative materials
  • Pipe insulation
  • Resilient flooring tiles and vinyl sheet flooring
  • HVAC system insulation and connectors
  • Wiring
  • Plaster

If you are unsure whether asbestos is present, you should have a professional test conducted. In doing so, make sure the lab preforming the test is certified through the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program. Click here to find a lab with qualified inspection and abatement professionals.

Further information about asbestos, where it may be present in homes and buildings, and who is at risk of exposure can be found at curemeso.org/asbestos.

Asbestos Awareness Week and Prevention of Mesothelioma

Asbestos Awareness Week Fundraising ChallengeToday is Day 3 of Asbestos Awareness Week. We honor this week by providing our community and the general public with educational information, blog posts, press releases, and important facts necessary to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos and to prevent dangerous exposures to asbestos.

Also, in honor of this important week, the Meso Foundation launched its new prevention program with focus on early detection research, prevention of asbestos exposures, and prevention of disease development.

Particularly, with respect to prevention, the Meso Foundation is placing a strong focus on education for the general public, as well as workers at risk of occupational exposure.

The EPA estimates that asbestos is still present in tens of millions of homes, government buildings, schools, and has also been found naturally-occurring in the soil in several locations in the United States, sometimes in very close proximity to inhabited areas. According to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 1.3 million construction employees continue to be occupationally exposed to asbestos.

When disturbed, asbestos particles become airborne and are easily inhaled. No amount of exposure is deemed safe.

Because most cases of mesothelioma are known to be caused by exposure to asbestos, we believe that prevention of exposures to asbestos, and other known carcinogens associated with the development of mesothelioma, will contribute to our mission of eradicating mesothelioma. Read our full prevention program mission here.

Investing in expanding our programs does not come without cost. In honor of our launch, two generous donors have offered up to $12,000 in matching funds for donations made in honor of Asbestos Prevention Week. If successful, this would mean a total of $24,000 for the Meso Foundation to use for prevention, research, education, support, and advocacy.

Please help us reach this goal by making a tax-deductible donation!

If you missed this week’s posts, here they are:
Announcing the Meso Foundation’s New Prevention Program
Meso Foundation to speak at BoRit Asbestos Superfund Citizen Advisory Group Meeting
Asbestos, its History, and its Dangerous Presence in Daily Life
Help us Launch our NEW Prevention Program!
Know Before You Buy: Asbestos Available for Purchase Online

ABOUT THE MESOTHELIOMA APPLIED RESEARCH FOUNDATION
The Meso Foundation is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and easing the suffering caused by this cancer. The Meso Foundation actively seeks philanthropic support to fund peer-reviewed mesothelioma research; provide patient support services and education; and advocate Congress for increased federal funding for mesothelioma research. The Meso Foundation is the only non-government funder of peer reviewed scientific research to establish effective treatments for mesothelioma and, ultimately, a cure for this extremely aggressive cancer. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $9 million to research. More information is available at http://www.curemeso.org.