Asbestos rife in Australia’s indigenous public housing

May 30, 2008

Asbestos has been found in run-down public housing and buildings in remote communities in the Northern Territory, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said last night. Tradespeople working in the communities raised concerns to the Government about the asbestos in August last year. But the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs waited two months to investigate.

Read the whole story here.

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Meso Foundation offers symposium travel grants for patients

May 29, 2008

This year the Meso Foundation has set up a travel grant program to help patients and a travel partner attend the 5th Annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma in Washington, D.C., from June 26-28.

The travel grants provide a 3-night hotel stay, domestic airfare, and reduced registration for the symposium. The application process for the travel grants is informal and the Meso Foundation encourages patients to apply.

The symposium is an important resource for patients and family members. Our law firm helped found MARF and we have supported it since its inception. We look forward to joining patients, advocates, friends, and families at this important yearly gathering of the mesothelioma community.

To obtain an application form for one of the travel grants, please call the Meso Foundation at (805) 456-7273. If you know patients or their families who might be interested in taking advantage of the travel grant program, please forward this information to them.

For more information about the symposium’s agenda, please visit the Meso Foundation’s web site by clicking here.


International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma 2008

May 29, 2008

Targeting a Cure

WASHINGTON, May 28 –Leading international experts on the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, will join meso patients, caregivers, loved ones and advocates to share the latest in treatment, research and clinical trials at the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, 2008, Thursday, June 26 – Saturday, June 28 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C.

The Symposium, organized annually by the Meso Foundation, will highlight the latest advances in research and treatment for patients and caregivers, offer psychosocial support to them as well as those who have lost someone to the disease, and provide significant advocacy and volunteer opportunities for all who are intent on eradicating the vicious and terminal effects of this tragic cancer. Click here for whole story.


Spanish asbestos victims sue in U.S. court for naval poisoning

May 28, 2008

Fifteen Spanish workers can sue an American company in a New Jersey state court for asbestos-related illnesses they claim were caused while working on U.S. Navy ships in Spain, a state appellate panel ruled on Tuesday. Click here for the whole story.


Update on U.S. ban asbestos legislative efforts

May 22, 2008

Excerpt from Laurie Kazan-Allen’s “Governments Debate Asbestos”

Although asbestos has not been banned in the United States, its use has dwindled considerably due to the threat of litigation. Nevertheless, campaigning groups have been actively lobbying for a number of years for a ban on all asbestos use in the U.S. In October 2007, the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007 was passed by the Senate.4 Unfortunately somewhere between the drafting of the Senate bill and its unanimous adoption, the language was changed to such an extent that the proposed legislation became unacceptable to the Asbestos Diseases Awareness Organization (ADAO), and others who support the cessation of all asbestos use in the U.S. American business executive, mesothelioma survivor and activist Paul Zygielbaum explains:

“Rather than banning all products containing asbestos, whether as an ingredient or as a contaminant, the revised Senate bill would ban only ‘asbestos containing materials,’ which have a legal definition that generally allows asbestos content up to 1% by weight. The revised bill also calls for studies of the state of scientific knowledge about the hazards of asbestos, a provision sought by industry sources. The bill omits provisions in the earlier draft that would have mandated government testing of products for asbestos content.”5

A determined effort began, directed at the House of Representatives (House), to reinstate the original wording. On May 18, there was a briefing of Democratic staffers on the Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington D.C. to consider the more stringent House Committee Print which seeks to “establish a ban on asbestos-containing products, initiate a public education effort to increase awareness of the dangers of exposure to asbestos and provide compliance testing.” Experts who gave evidence at this hearing included: Peg Seminario, Director of Safety and Health, ALF-CIO, Dr. Arthur Frank from Drexel University, Mrs. Linda Reinstein, Executive Director of the ADAO and others.

Should the House pass a stricter bill than the Senate, a legislative committee will be asked to produce a compromise bill for submission to the President. This opens up yet another can of worms such as the omissions which could be demanded by opponents of the ban as well as the possibility of a Presidential veto. Opinion is divided over the best course of action on the thorny 1% issue. Zygielbaum continues:

“The 1% limit defined in the Senate bill is viewed by some as a stop-gap, with the hope that a future Congress could muster the support needed for a complete ban.Others believe that, if the Senate bill becomes law, it’s unlikely to be revisited in the foreseeable future. Still others point out that the 1% limit would institutionalize asbestos content and contamination in products on American store shelves.one person put it, ‘A 1% limit could mean that it would be permissible to have asbestos in my cornflakes.'”

Speaking about the House hearing on May 18, Mrs. Reinstein said:

“The ADAO supports the House Committee Print that eliminates the 1% exemption and establishes a statutory ban on asbestos. We agree with the World Health Organization’s powerful statement that, ‘The most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop using all types of asbestos.’ Scientific technology has made gigantic strides in asbestos detection since the 1970s. We don’t have to compromise public safety by using antiquated analytical standards. Recent Congressional testimony reaffirmed that 1% is not a health based number and asbestos exposure is deadly. We only have one opportunity to ban asbestos – and it is now. Congress can and should pass this legislation to ban asbestos-containing products, initiate a public awareness program and provide for compliance testing which is fully justified, absolutely necessary, and long overdue.”

Whatever the eventual outcome of these activities, there can be little doubt that asbestos victims’ groups and campaigners are now participating at the highest levels of policy making on asbestos issues in the UK, India and the U.S. The bad old days when the asbestos industry had a stranglehold on national asbestos debates is well and truly over.

Full report available here.

In unity,

Linda Reinstein
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
1525 Aviation Blvd. Suite 318
Redondo Beach, California 90278


Chemotherapy may not affect survival or quality of life for patients with advanced mesothelioma

May 22, 2008

Researchers from the UK and Australia involved in a multicenter randomized trial have concluded that chemotherapy for advanced pleural mesothelioma may not improve survival or quality of life. The details of this study appeared in the May 17, 2008 issue of The Lancet.1Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and lethal form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. There are about 2,500 new cases a year in the United States. Because the disease is often advanced at the time of diagnosis, average survival for those with pleural mesothelioma has been significantly less than one year. Recent studies have suggested that chemotherapy can improve quality of life and prolong survival compared with supportive care measures.

The current study compared active symptom control (ASC), with one of two chemotherapy regimens (mitomycin, vinblastine, and cisplatin [MVP] or vinorelbine alone) in 409 patients with advanced pleural mesothelioma. The following table summarizes the main findings of this trial.

ASC MVP Vinorelbine
No. of Patients
Response 0% 10% 16%
Stable Disease 0% 62% 59%
Deaths 97% 96% 95%
Median Survival 7.6 months 8.5 months 9.5 months
PFS 5.1 months 5.1 months 6.2 months

There were no differences in quality of life parameters between the three groups. These authors concluded that the addition of chemotherapy to supportive care did not affect survival or quality of life. However, there was a suggestion that vinorelbine could be more effective than supportive care or MVP chemotherapy.


Mesothelioma science wrap-up

May 9, 2008
1. Genetic susceptibility to malignant pleural mesothelioma and other asbestos-associated diseases
2. Diagnostic value of carcinoembryonic antigen in malignant pleural effusion
3. Worker produced health education material for the construction trades
4. Efficacy and safety of Pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin for malignant pleural mesothelioma: a phase I/II study in Japanese patients
5. Individual versus standard quality of life assessment in a phase II clinical trial in mesothelioma patients: feasibility and responsiveness to clinical changes
6. Cytotoxic responses and potential respiratory health effects of carbon and carbonaceous nanoparticulates in the Paso del Norte airshed environment
7. Prediction of mesothelioma and lung cancer in a cohort of asbestos exposed workers