MARF praises bipartisan efforts that moved Ban Asbestos Act out of committee

WASHINGTON, July 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation today commended Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, under the direction of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), for approving the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007. The bill was introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in March, and now with the Committee’s approval, it will proceed to the full Senate for final passage.

Nicholas Vogelzang, MD, chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors and director of Nevada Cancer Institute, emphasized the importance of the bill. “This legislation promotes necessary federal research to find effective treatments for mesothelioma. It is an end for asbestos and hopefully a new beginning for patients,” Vogelzang said.

Sue Vento of St. Paul, Minnesota and a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, applauded the progress made toward passing this legislation. In particular, Ms. Vento recognized Senator Patty Murray for her leadership in working the past six years to protect Americans by banning the use of this known carcinogen. “So many people I talk with are truly shocked to learn that asbestos has not been banned in this country. Most mistakenly believe it was banned decades ago. But those who have experienced the devastation of mesothelioma and other diseases caused by asbestos know how urgently Senator Murray’s legislation is needed, and are very grateful,” Vento said.

Ms. Vento is the wife of the late U.S. Rep. Bruce Vento who lost his battle with mesothelioma in 2000, just nine months after his initial diagnosis. His exposure to asbestos came in the early 1960s when he worked in factories and a brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota. Rep. Vento served Minnesotans for 12 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that aggressively and painfully invades the lining of the lungs, heart or stomach until it destroys the vital organs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 3,000 Americans die from mesothelioma each year. Reported mesothelioma deaths have been rising since 1999, and many experts believe the number of annual deaths is even greater than reported because mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose and is often misdiagnosed as lung or gastrointestinal cancer. Widespread asbestos exposures resulting from 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina are expected to cause additional deaths.

The legislation directs the National Institutes of Health to create a $50 million Asbestos-Related Disease and Treatment Network, comprised of ten research and treatment centers around the country. In addition, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health would be tasked to report back to Congress on the current state of science regarding the health effects of non- asbestiform minerals and elongated mineral particles and methods for measuring and analyzing them. The report would include recommendations for future disease research, and a follow-up report would also provide recommendations for ways in which to identify and distinguish mineral particles that may cause disease from those that do not.

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has actively worked with Senator Murray in support of the legislation for the past six years. In March, Senator Murray as chair of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Labor and Work Safety, held the subcommittee’s first hearing in conjunction with her introduction of the legislation. Ms. Vento and Dr. Harvey Pass of the NYU School of Medicine, testified at the hearing on behalf of the Foundation.

Since 1999, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has championed research and advocacy to overcome mesothelioma. The Foundation has awarded more than $4 million in seed money grants to the brightest investigators around the world working to develop treatments for the disease. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is the nonprofit collaboration of patients and families, physicians, advocates, and researchers dedicated to eradicating the life-ending and vicious effects of mesothelioma.

CONTACT: Chris Hahn Executive Director, 805-563-8400, chahn@curemeso.org Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Information about mesothelioma medical and legal options provided by the Law Office of Roger G. Worthington, P.C., www.mesothel.com.

CONTACT: Chris Hahn, Executive Director of Mesothelioma Applied Research
Foundation, +1-805-563-8400, chahn@curemeso.org

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