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Attorney Steven Kazan Receives Prestigious Consumer Attorneys of California Award

Attorney Steven Kazan AwardCongratulations to Steven Kazan, Founding, Senior and Managing Partner of Kazan Law on this achievement!

Attorney Steven Kazan was honored with the Edward I. Pollock Award at the Consumer Attorneys of California’s 2017 Convention. The award was given “in recognition of many years of dedication, outstanding efforts and effectiveness on behalf of the causes and ideals” of consumer attorneys. He has spent more than four decades fighting on behalf of victims of mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis, and his firm’s Kazan McClain Partners’ Foundation has made significant contributions to medical research facilities that are seeking treatment for asbestos-related diseases.
 


 

View the Award Ceremony Video Below

Investing in People & Communities

The Kazan McClain Partners’ Foundation contributes an average of one-million dollars annually to nonprofit organizations that advance medical research into the causes of, treatment for, and prevention of occupational and environmental diseases; increase and improve public awareness about workplace health and safety, and public health; and enhance access to, participation in, and education about the legal system and governmental processes.

The Foundation supports legal services programs that provide assistance to those who cannot afford an attorney, supports programs that focus on educating young people, and also donates to community organizations that strengthen the community or assist the poor.

The Kazan McClain Partners’ Foundation and many Kazan Law clients make significant donations each year to organizations that research treatments for diseases, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related cancers and diseases. Donations support cutting edge research being conducted by the University of California at San Francisco, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Creighton University Medical Center, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.

Highlighted examples of work we are proud to support.
 

Research into Treatment of Mesothelioma

Our university medical grantees across the country are pursuing a variety of strategies to treat and cure lung cancer and mesothelioma cancer.

Cancer treatment is quickly approaching an era of personalized medicine where treatment is based on the distinctive molecular characteristics of a patient’s tumor. This will allow patients to receive innovative combinations of therapies that will maximize clinical benefit, more accurately predict disease outcome, and allow patients at the highest risk of relapse to receive the most aggressive treatment.

Research includes the investigation of molecular pathways such as Wnt and Hedgehog, the role of inflammation in causing lung cancer, isolation of lung cancer stems cells, and the Lung Cancer Systems Genetics Project, An Approach to Individualized Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy. Eventually, these efforts will have a major impact on these diseases.
 

Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal)

BayLegal seeks to increase self-sufficiency, stability and quality of life of low-income residents. They provide free, linguistically and culturally competent information, advice and legal representation to help people understand and enforce their consumer rights; secure public benefits; avoid eviction or loss of housing subsidy; access mental and/or physical healthcare; escape domestic violence; and other vital benefits.

Working with thousands of individuals and families each year, BayLegal has intimate knowledge of root causes that harm poor people and impede their path to self-sufficiency.

With this knowledge, BayLegal focuses on systemic work to address the root causes. Some systemic solutions include legislative and administrative advocacy and training; and technical assistance and policy development for agencies administering housing, healthcare and benefits programs for low-income residents.
 

WORKSAFE!

Everyone has the right to work in a safe and healthy place of employment and to return home uninjured at the end of each workday. Yet, every year over 66,000 American workers are injured or die from preventable workplace hazards or exposure to toxic chemicals.

WORKSAFE is a California-based organization dedicated to eliminating all types of workplace hazards. It advocates for protective worker health and safety laws and effective remedies for injured workers.

WORKSAFE watchdogs government agencies to ensure they enforce these laws. And WORKSAFE engages in campaigns in coalition with unions, workers, community, environmental and legal organizations, and scientists to eliminate hazards and toxic chemicals from the workplace.

To protect the most vulnerable of California workers, WORKSAFE engages in impact litigation and provides legal training, technical assistance, and advocacy support to legal services programs who serve low wage and immigrant workers.

The Kazan McClain Partners’ Foundation is proud to contribute substantially to the worker occupational safety and health advocacy

What to Know About California Asbestos Regulations

Asbestos was used frequently from the beginning of the 20th century in a variety of building materials. In the 1970s, the public learned what the asbestos industry had known for 60 years – that asbestos is highly toxic and that inhaling its fibers can cause lung scarring, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Although asbestos is no longer used in building materials, many older structures still contain the substance. Asbestos is most commonly found in ceiling insulation, but it is also often found in other materials, including:

  • Dry wall joint patching compounds
  • Stove or pipe insulation
  • Floor tiles
  • Furnaces and duct work
  • Roofing materials

 

Testing

It’s usually impossible to detect asbestos fibers with a generic visual inspection. According to California asbestos regulations, only licensed professionals with specialized equipment are allowed to detect and report on asbestos presence. They will send their findings to a lab for further testing, where technicians will determine the type and concentration of asbestos, and thus confirm whether the building is dangerous.

If lab technicians determine that a home is dangerous due to the presence of asbestos, the homeowner has three options:

  1. Hire a professional to remove the asbestos.
  2. Use sealants to contain the fibers.
  3. Continue to live in the dangerous environment.

#1-Professional removal is the best choice for dangerous conditions.

#2-Sealants are next best, but are not always adequate to protect families and construction workers from asbestos exposure during renovation or demolition projects. Asbestos removal is recommended if a home or building is to be renovated or demolished.

#3-doing nothing is by far the worst choice!
 

Certification

California asbestos law requires employees and contractors working on asbestos projects greater than 100 square feet with an asbestos concentration above 0.1 percent to register with the Asbestos Contractors’ Registration Organization. Anyone handling asbestos must have certification. There are five types of certification:

  • Worker
  • Supervisor or contractor
  • Building inspector
  • Project designer
  • Management planner

Different certifications have different courses and requirements, but all must be completed in a state-certified training facility. Certifications must be renewed each year.
 

Abatement

California asbestos law has strict regulations for asbestos abatement. On an abatement site, all workers must wear respirators and multiple layers of protective clothing.

There are four classes of abatement operations, and the class determines the regulations and procedures. Class I involves the removal of asbestos in thermal system [furnaces and duct work] insulation. Class II involves asbestos abatement in floor tiles, roofing, wallboard, sheeting, and construction materials. With both classes, projects must be completed in an enclosed and regulated area. All materials containing asbestos must be soaked in water before removal to limit airborne asbestos fibers, which are dangerous carcinogens. All asbestos-containing materials must also be intact when removed unless deemed impossible by the contractor.

Class III operations involve repair or maintenance work. They follow the same California asbestos regulations as Classes I and II, but they don’t allow the dry cutting of asbestos-containing materials. No asbestos-containing materials can be dropped or thrown on the ground. Instead, they must be carefully lowered and stored with “danger” signs.

Class IV operations involve maintenance or custodial work where employees contact but don’t disturb the asbestos. Those making contact with the asbestos and those performing other work in the regulated area must wear respirators and protective clothing.

The state of California requires everyone who handles asbestos to receive thorough training and education. Anyone involved in asbestos abatement in California should know the regulations for all classes of operations.

Asbestos Use in U.S. Plummets!

asbestos useAsbestos use in the U.S. has dropped by 90% in the past two years, according to just-released data. An amazing 80% drop occurred just from 2013 to 2014. This is very good news for all Americans. It is clear that there is no safe level of asbestos use. Any amount of asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer for which there is no cure. Regardless of the asbestos lobby’s attempts to characterize certain asbestos types as safe, no type of asbestos is safe for human exposure. Asbestos remains a deadly mineral with horrible health consequences.

Asbestos Use Steep Decline Reported by US Geological Survey

Asbestos use data showing the steep decline in the US was reported by the US Geological Survey. The data was part of its annual report on the global asbestos trade for the United Nations (UN) Commodity Trade Statistics Database. Asbestos use monitoring falls under the purview of the US Geological Survey because asbestos is a mineral mined from below the earth’s surface.

US asbestos use for the last few years according to the new report is:

2012   1560 tons

2013   745 tons

2014   144 tons

This data is all the more remarkable given that asbestos use remains legal for many types of products in the U.S. It reflects a great victory on the part of anti-asbestos advocates who have raised awareness of the dangers of asbestos. It is also a tragic victory for those who have successfully sued businesses for knowingly exposing them to asbestos, causing them to develop mesothelioma and die.

To put this new data into perspective, consider that in 1973, at the peak of asbestos use in the US, the US Geological Survey reported that a record 803,000 metric tons of asbestos were used in this country. Of that, 137,000 tons came from U.S. mines and most of the rest was imported from Canada.

Asbestos Use and Export Remains High In Some Countries

Asbestos is now banned in 52 countries, and safer materials have replaced asbestos use in many products. But there are many countries that still actively mine asbestos for export and the report highlights which countries continue to export the most of this extremely dangerous substance. And also which countries continue to import it despite its hazards being well-known for decades.

The US Geological Survey’s new asbestos report shows that in 2014 the top five producing and using countries remained about the same as in 2013. The report also highlights that global asbestos production and asbestos use has stayed steady at around 2 million tons per year. Please note that Russia, one of the world’s main asbestos-producing countries, has not yet reported its 2014 data to the UN, so the numbers shown are USGS estimates.

For much of Europe, asbestos use for 2014 is as low and in many cases lower than in the U.S. Asbestos use by France is at zero level. Italy, which once had a huge asbestos mining industry, is not far behind at 6 tons of asbestos use for the year.

However, for Europe’s two former Soviet Union countries, the numbers tell a different story. For Belarus, the total is 7,832 and for Ukraine it is even higher at 24,743 tons. But the dubious distinction of the country with the highest amount of asbestos use in not only Europe but in the entire world is Russia itself. According to US Geological Survey estimates for this year, Russia produced a startling 1,100,000 tons of asbestos. It exported half of it and used the rest at home.

There is hardly any asbestos use reported for Africa except for Zimbabwe which imported 5,997 tons of asbestos.

The biggest asbestos user in North America is Mexico with 12,179 tons. Not even a close second is El Salvador at 730 tons, with Canada third at 378 tons and the US fourth with 144 tons. Worth noting here is that Aruba, Barbados, Belize and Jamaica are all at zero asbestos use so those may be better travel options than Mexico. Who wants to bring home mesothelioma as a souvenir?

In South America, Venezuela at 4 tons and Argentina at 100 tons are among the lowest. Brazil produced 284,000 tons of asbestos and exported about half of it.

Second only to Russia in world asbestos use is China which used 507,016 tons of asbestos last year. Third place sadly goes to India with 370,011 tons of asbestos use. China’s asbestos use declined slightly from last year according to the data while Russia’s slightly increased and India’s significantly increased.

Here’s Hoping U.S. Asbestos Use Decline Continues and Spreads

The following facts about asbestos use remain clear:

  • All forms of asbestos are proven to cause cancer
  • All forms of asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung, laryngeal, ovarian and gastrointestinal cancers
  • No level of asbestos exposure is without risk
  • Victims of asbestos-caused cancers often die painful lingering deaths
  • Eliminating asbestos use would prevent many of these deaths

So it is a cause for celebration that asbestos use in the U.S. has declined so steeply in the past few years. Let us hope this downward trend continues and that next year’s US Geological Report to the UN shows that asbestos use in the US has completely disappeared. Let us also hope that this trend spreads around the globe to other countries so that much needless human suffering and loss can be prevented in the years to come.

 

Asbestos Warning Hoped For at UN Convention

asbestos warning

A global asbestos warning at long last is the hoped for outcome of the United Nations Rotterdam Convention currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland. It is an ongoing struggle because of the powerful international asbestos industry interests that profit by keeping things just as they are. But anti-asbestos advocates and Convention delegates who are concerned about human health continue to hope for change. This year we may finally see the changes we long have sought.

Asbestos Warning Part of the Bigger Picture at Rotterdam

Asbestos warning attempts are part of the bigger picture of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention. The Convention focuses on pesticides and industrial chemicals that are of global concern for health or environmental reasons. It is basically a multilateral treaty to promote shared responsibilities in relation to the exporting and importing of hazardous chemicals and materials.

Under the Rotterdam Convention, countries nominate chemicals for inclusion in the international PIC (prior informed consent) list.

Impact of Rotterdam Convention PIC List

The PIC listing is a warning, not a ban. The chemicals included on the list are subject to extensive information exchange and obligations related to international trade. Exporting nations are required to provide documentation on the nature of the substance so that importers can make informed decision as to whether or not they are capable of using it safely.

A regulatory decision to place a chemical or material like asbestos on the PIC list for health or environmental reasons is circulated to all involved countries. It has ramifications for exporting and importing products and can impact trade. This is why asbestos-exporting companies encourage their nation’s delegation to vote against adding asbestos to the PIC warning list.

Asbestos Warning Fits Rotterdam Convention Objectives

Asbestos warning labels worldwide clearly fit the objectives of the Rotterdam Convention. The text was adopted on September 10, 1998 at a UN conference in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The official objectives of the Convention are:

  • Promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among nations in the international trade of certain hazardous materials in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm
  • Contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous materials, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions worldwide

Asbestos Warning Signs Greet Industry Lobbyists

Signs calling for an asbestos warning are displayed on the sides of buses and trains throughout the city of Geneva as asbestos industry lobbyists arrive from pro-asbestos countries Russia, India, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Brazil.

The asbestos warning signs are sponsored by labor unions including IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and The Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union. Their messages state:

Asbestos = Death – Every five minutes someone dies from asbestos exposure – For the global ban on all asbestos.

Stop all trade in deadly asbestos – 2 million tons of asbestos are used every year – For the global ban of all asbestos.

Asbestos: all products still deadly – 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at work – For the global ban of all asbestos.

Asbestos Warning Hinted At By UN Official

Asbestos warnings through inclusion on the PIC list have been put forward before at previous Rotterdam Conventions but have not passed because of the influence of asbestos industry lobbyists; notably those from Canada. This time may be different.

The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), a London-based asbestos monitoring organization, reports that Baskut Tuncak, a UN special envoy on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, said in an official statement that he is “deeply troubled” by the behavior of vested interests who “continue to obstruct the listing of asbestos (as a banned substance) under the Rotterdam Convention…”

Asbestos Ban Previously Thwarted by Canada

At the 2011 Rotterdam Convention, the Canadian delegation surprised many with a refusal to allow the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the official Rotterdam Convention list of substances that require a warning label.

There is some indication that this time around, they may have changed their minds. As IBAS stated in their recent newsletter, “Whether chrysotile will be listed this time around is anybody’s guess. If the industry veto is ended, then the Rotterdam Convention may begin to fulfill its potential.” We can only hope.

 

 

 

$10 Million Grant to Provide Screenings to Potential Asbestos Victims in Montana

Fibrous asbestos

U.S. Senator Max Baucus of Montana recently congratulated the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases (CARD) in Libby, Montana, on its securing of a $10 million grant to help treat asbestos victims.

The grant will offer screenings for asbestos-related diseases – such as lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer – to those in the Libby area, according to a release from the Senator’s office. The grant is part of a program Baucus created for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

“Early screening is one of our strongest weapons in the fight to treat asbestos victims and prevent this terrible tragedy from taking any more of our family members and neighbors,” Baucus said. “The folks at the CARD clinic do amazing work supporting asbestos victims, and this grant will give them security and support to continue providing great screening and healthcare to folks in Lincoln County for years to come.”

Libby, a national health emergency

In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency declared Libby to be the first national health emergency in U.S. history. This was due to the old W.R. Grace vermiculite mine, which ceased operations in the early 1990s. The mine brought up a large amount of asbestos to the surface.

Exposure to asbestos can have deadly consequences as the inhalation of the deadly mineral fiber has been known since the mid-1960s to cause a number of illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

These illnesses have reportedly caused the deaths of hundreds of people in Libby and the surrounding areas. The World Health Organization estimates that such diseases kill 107,000 people each year around the world.

Grant will help CARD serve the community

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded the $10 million grant, which will be paid out over the course of four years, to Lincoln County-based CARD after it won a competitive application process.

“CARD is grateful for the opportunity to continue providing free asbestos health screening for individuals exposed to asbestos in Libby, Montana,” Dr. Brad Black, CARD Medical Director and Lincoln County Public Health Officer, said. “CARD will not only be providing free screening in Libby Montana but CARD will also implement screening across the nation for individuals exposed in Libby, Montana.”

Asbestos Violators Face Stiff Punishment Around The World

Over the past few decades the awareness of the dangers that asbestos poses to people’s health have become apparent. While it has been known since the mid-1960s that the inhalation of this naturally occurring mineral could cause lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer, it has only been in recent years that authorities have begun to punish asbestos violators to the fullest extent of the law.

Such is the case in British Columbia, where the Canadian province’s workplace health and safety agency, WorkSafeBC, is hoping to put a contractor who allegedly exposed his employees to asbestos behind bars. Continue reading

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