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.

Know Before You Buy: Asbestos Available for Purchase Online

Danger: AsbestosFormerly known as the “miracle fiber,” asbestos was once used so frequently that it is estimated to have been in 3,000 different products. Today, asbestos products can still be purchased in the United States. Because any amount of exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, it is important to know what you are buying.

Diane Blackburn-Zambetti, Director of Policy and Prevention Education at the Meso Foundation, recently came across asbestos-containing products for sale online. Diane stated, “While listening to one of my husband’s stained glass videos, a reference was made to the ‘wonderful asbestos gloves’ the lovely man was wearing while working. I immediately thought ‘where did this nice man obtain asbestos gloves?’ An immediate Google search yielded an alarming number of asbestos products that can be purchased today.” Products, such as the examples below, are available on multiple websites.

Asbestos Products

Those who choose to purchase such products should know the risks brought on by asbestos exposure. While there may be no immediate effects of exposure, asbestos-related diseases can develop later in life. The latency period between exposure and the development of mesothelioma is 20 to 50 years.

Diane continued, “I can‘t help to think of this nice man’s grandchild playing with these gloves and having health issues later in life.” Not only is the buyer at risk, but secondary exposure can put others at risk as well. A significant number of mesothelioma patients have appeared in the category of secondary, or stealth, asbestos exposure. For example, family members of asbestos workers are exposed through contact with contaminated clothing or tools.

It is important that you and your network of family and friends are educated when it comes to asbestos products. If you suspect asbestos may be in a product, do not purchase it before researching what it contains. Also, keep in mind that asbestos may be in antique products.

Learn more about asbestos and the risks brought on by exposure at curemeso.org/asbestos.

Asbestos, its History, and its Dangerous Presence in Daily Life

Asbestos fiberAsbestos is the name given to a naturally occurring group of minerals. Strong, flexible, thin, and easily separated, these microscopic asbestos fibers are poor conductors of heat and do not conduct electricity. These natural properties make the mineral a versatile material, used in a number of building, manufacturing, and commercial applications. Unfortunately, asbestos is also a dangerous and deadly material that has been linked to mesothelioma.

The history of asbestos dates back over 3,000 years to when it was used in pottery, utensils, and home building. The early Romans and Greeks had many uses for this fiber, such as in table coverings, fire retardant clothing, and building materials. Throughout history, asbestos was used across cultures for various reasons. In India, asbestos was used to wrap the deceased. During the medieval period, asbestos lined suits of armor. Romans used asbestos for towels and head dressings, and ancient uses were in wicks for lamp lighting.

It was at the dawn of the industrial age that machinery, steam, and fire became catalysts for the more widespread use of asbestos. By the 1860’s, asbestos began appearing as insulation in the United States and Canada. Thousands of different uses for asbestos appeared by the middle of the 20th century. These included fire retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat, fire, and acid resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture, drywall joint compound and on and on.

Unfortunately, the very elements that contribute to asbestos being such a good building material are also why it is so deadly. Once disturbed or separated, the thin, flexible asbestos fibers break easily, turning into microscopic dust particles. These fibers can hang in the air, and will stick to just about anything, including clothing and work tools. If these fibers are inhaled, the result can be a serious health problem, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Due to the widespread use of asbestos in the past and its regulated use that continues today, asbestos is still present in daily life. 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.

To learn more about asbestos and its history, visit curemeso.org/asbestos.

Meso Foundation to speak at BoRit Asbestos Superfund Citizen Advisory Group Meeting

Diane Blackburn-ZambettiDiane Blackburn-Zambetti, the Director of Policy and Prevention Education at the Meso Foundation, will present an educational program titled “Asbestos and Your Health” at the BoRit Asbestos Superfund Citizen Advisory Group Meeting in Ambler, Pennsylvania tonight. This program will discuss anatomy, six types of asbestos, asbestos products, asbestos in the environment, asbestos diseases, symptoms, treatments, prevention and proper communication with your healthcare provider.

Ambler has a long history with asbestos, dating back to 1875 when a parcel of land was the home to an asbestos insulation factory. Over the years, this land has been separated into multiple parcels. The Bast parcel is located adjacent to a Superfund site and is the proposed site of a multi-unit apartment complex.

“If constructed, this apartment complex will be the first-ever residential housing project permitted on an asbestos waste disposal site in the United States,” Diane stated.

“In the year 2015, we are still suffering asbestos exposures from an insulation factory dating back to 1875. If this complex is approved, we will see asbestos disease for many decades into Ambler’s future,” she added.

The Citizens Advisory Group works with the EPA to find viable solutions to the asbestos pollution on the BoRit Asbestos Superfund site located at the confluence of Whitpain, Upper Dublin and Ambler townships. The Citizens Advisory Group is instrumental in protecting the residents of Ambler, and all residents are encouraged to participate in this open meeting.

Diane will speak at the meeting along with Keith Cengel, MD, PhD, who is a mesothelioma patient and radiation oncologist working in Philadelphia, PA.

This meeting will commence at 6:30pm tonight, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, at the Upper Dublin Township Building located at 801 Loch Ash Road, Fort Washington, PA 19034.

To learn more about the Meso Foundation’s new prevention program and Diane’s role at the organization, visit curemeso.org/asbestos.