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New Research Suggests Talcum Powder as Mesothelioma Cause in Women

mesothelioma causeAsbestos, the only known mesothelioma cause in the U.S., is associated with industrial uses. Because of its ability to withstand heat, asbestos was a go-to component for many manufactured products where heat resistance would be helpful. Car brakes and brake pads, home and building insulation contained asbestos. Thousands of tons of asbestos were used in World War II ships to insulate piping, boilers, steam engines, and steam turbines.

These uses of asbestos suggest occupations held primarily by men. In a report called The Asbestos Epidemic in America, the Environmental Working Group states,” Asbestos kills thousands more people than skin cancer each year, and nearly the number that are slain in assaults with firearms. The suite of diseases linked to asbestos exposure overwhelmingly affect older men.” The report goes on to say that even a tiny amount of asbestos can be lethal and that “asbestos diseases have a 20 to 50 year latency period, meaning that a substantial portion of individuals exposed in the 1960s and 1970s are just now showing up as disease or mortality statistics.”

Now new research published in the September issue of the International Journal of Occupational Environmental Health, suggests that the use of talcum powder may be a mesothelioma cause in women.

The research focuses on the use of one brand of talcum powder by a woman who had recently died.

“This brand of talcum powder contained asbestos and the application of talcum powder released inhalable asbestos fibers. Lung and lymph node tissues removed at autopsy revealed pleural mesothelioma,” the published report states. “Through many applications of this particular brand of talcum powder, the deceased inhaled asbestos fibers, which then accumulated in her lungs and likely caused or contributed to her mesothelioma as well as other women with the same scenario.”

But talc is not only in talcum powder. It is commonly found in eye shadow, baby powder, face powder, and other loose-mineral cosmetics, where it’s used as an absorbent, anti-caking agent.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states on its website it is “unacceptable” for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos. “To prevent contamination of talc with asbestos, it is essential to select talc mining sites carefully and take steps to purify the ore sufficiently.”

FDA reports that from 2008 to 2010 because of safety concerns, it studied talc from four talc suppliers and 38 talc-containing cosmetic products purchased in retail stores. These included eye shadow, blush, foundation, face powder, and body powder.

The analysis found no asbestos in any of the samples of cosmetic-grade raw material talc or cosmetic products containing talc. However FDA cautions that the results “do not prove that most or all talc or talc-containing cosmetic products currently marketed in the United States are likely to be free of asbestos contamination.”

Laurie Kazan-Allen Receives Award for Global Ban Asbestos Efforts

global asbestos banSaturday, December 21, 2013 marks the second anniversary of the death of Rachel Lee Jung-Lim.  Rachel was a mesothelioma patient who died because of her asbestos-caused illness at age 39.  But this young South Korean woman also became in the brief time left to her, a strong voice in the global ban asbestos fight.

Rachel was supported in her campaign against asbestos by a leading international veteran in the global asbestos contamination struggle, my sister Laurie Kazan-Allen. I’ve just learned that Laurie has been announced as this year’s recipient of the Rachel Lee Jung-Lim Award.

Laurie became interested in asbestos issues long ago. Because she was living in England, I asked her to serve legal papers for Kazan Law on asbestos companies based there who we were suing in the US.

She also did some research for me on cases involving clients who had worked in the UK.  That’s how she initially got to meet victims groups. But Laurie deserves full credit for where she took it from there and for the level of integrity, dedication and passion she has brought to this cause.

But I fear I am biased. So I will simply quote from the letter announcing Laurie’s award:

  • Laurie Kazan-Allen has devoted herself to the campaign of global asbestos ban over 14 years with the establishment of International Ban Asbestos Secretariat in 2000. In doing so, she was one of the first to raise the issue of increased asbestos consumption in developing countries, particularly in Asia, whilst most western societies have banned or reduced.
  • As an activist, her soul has rested always with victims and through recognizing, organizing, and supporting victims, she has contributed a lot to the launching and strengthening of civil movements in many developed and developing countries.
  • Without her, it would have been impossible to launch Ban Asbestos Network Korea in 2008, Asia Ban Asbestos network in 2009, and Indonesia Ban Asbestos Network in 2010.
  • Her life has been a role model to many activists as well as experts. We do hope her dream of a global asbestos ban comes true not far from now as Rachel Lee Jung-Lim wished too.

The award is jointly presented by the following groups:

Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health
School of Public Health Seoul National University
Ban Asbestos Network Korea
Korean Association of Asbestos Victims and their Families
Asia Ban Asbestos Network
Ban Asbestos Network Japan
Asia Monitor Resource Center

9/11 Clean-up Workers Exposed to Asbestos Contamination Fear Losing Health Benefits

asbestos exposureThe dangers of asbestos contamination were well-documented long before terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001.

But immediately afterward, a number of federal and state safeguards for cleaning up hazardous materials were waived because of the state of emergency, according to a new article just published in the suburban New York newspaper Newsday.

After the Twin Towers fell, more than 2,300 clean-up workers were called in to remove debris including the toxic dust blown into surrounding buildings. Many now have developed health problems. Interviews with almost 2,000 out of the 2,332 known Ground Zero asbestos workers have revealed that hundreds weren’t properly equipped.

During that chaotic time, under pressure to work swiftly, safety shortcuts were taken exposing workers to asbestos contamination, the article states.

“People initially were using asbestos masks, but they got clogged so fast,” one worker told a reporter.

Former workers further told Newsday that they were assured it was safe to remove their masks. They ate food donated by local restaurants unaware of settling dust causing asbestos contamination to their meals.  They also changed into their street clothes unaware that they were also contaminated.

Unlike emergency responders, some clean-up crews spent years working in the area and the longer exposure intensified the asbestos contamination health risks.

And while Ground Zero asbestos-removal crews are now at risk of developing mesothelioma and other cancers, there’s no guarantee they’ll have their future medical bills covered.

Mesothelioma, usually diagnosed decades after asbestos contamination, could emerge long after the free, federally funded World Trade Center health program runs out of money in 2016.

Two years ago, the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund was reactivated to help cover economic losses and out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred by workers, survivors and victims’ relatives. But that fund must pay out all of nearly $2.8 billion by 2017, officials said. After then, it’s uncertain whether Congress will renew funding for either program.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the lead agency overseeing worker safety at Ground Zero, denies that asbestos workers were ignored.

“OSHA disputes any characterization that it neglected any group of workers, including non-English-speaking workers, during 9/11 recovery operations or at any other time,” Edmund Fitzgerald, an OSHA spokesman, said in a statement.

We at Kazan Law salute these loyal patriotic workers who were put in harm’s way to do work so crucial to the nation’s recovery from that horrific day.  The least we as a country can do is to make sure they have continued medical monitoring for asbestos and other work-related disease for the rest of their lives, and that provision be made to further compensate those who are unfortunate enough to develop disabling or fatal diseases, no matter how long from now that might occur.

Asbestos Activist Laurie Kazan-Allen Receives England’s Robert Tressell Award

Laurie Kazan-AllenHelping those exposed to asbestos achieve justice is what we do at Kazan Law. I take great pride in having founded this firm and in our victories in this area.  But I also take great pride in personally introducing a leading asbestos activist to the struggle against asbestos exposure which set her on a path to help protect people around the world from its fatal consequences. She happens to be my sister Laurie Kazan-Allen.

Lest you think that it is only familial pride that prompts me to talk about my sister, I am pleased to tell you that she has just received the United Kingdom’s Construction Safety Campaign’s distinguished Robert Tressell award for her work as an asbestos activist.

The Robert Tressell Award is given to an individual who has provided outstanding service and commitment to workers in the UK by campaigning for safe working environments and assisting those who have been harmed or are suffering from occupation-related diseases.

According to official sources, Laurie received her award for “her global campaign against asbestos, her editorship of the British Asbestos Newsletter and her galvanizing of campaigners globally to one day deliver an asbestos-free world for the future generations of mankind.” “I am,” she said “honored by this recognition from construction workers, a group with one of the highest rates of asbestos-related disease. The CSC and its members are fully aware of the ongoing risks posed by occupational asbestos exposure and have played a frontline role in the campaign for asbestos justice in the UK and abroad.”

In addition to publishing the British Asbestos Newsletter, a periodical widely acknowledged as the authoritative resource for the UK campaign for asbestos justice, Laurie has been involved as an asbestos activist for over 20 years on global anti-asbestos initiatives.

She leads The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), which helps coordinate international asbestos conferences and is actively involved in UK and international asbestos issues. The IBAS website reports on current asbestos developments as well as on IBAS initiatives and events. Laurie has also published several books and monographs on asbestos topics.

“It was a complete surprise,” Laurie said in an email telling me about her award, “But nevertheless, it is wonderful to be recognized by the trade unionists for the work I have done.”

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