Since the turn of the twentieth century, scientific and medical evidence has increasingly demonstrated that working with or around asbestos causes irreparable lung damage and cancer in persons working with and around asbestos and asbestos-containing products, well as those persons living near industrial facilities where asbestos was manufactured or used. Asbestos is recognized as a potent class-one carcinogen, meaning that all types of asbestos cause cancer in humans. There is no "safe level" of asbestos exposure in humans and asbestos-related diseases can occur even with minimal exposures to asbestos. However, people who are exposed more frequently over a long period of time are generally subject to a greater risk or disease.
Although unknown to asbestos workers and uses of asbestos-containing products, manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos and asbestos-containing products well knew of the severe health risks to humans associated with working with or around asbestos. Despite their specific knowledge that asbestos caused irreparable lung damage and fatal cancers, asbestos companies continued to manufacture, sell and use asbestos in products and construction. Even though many materials were available as safer alternatives to replace asbestos, companies that used asbestos ignored the safer materials. Instead, asbestos companies turned their head from the recognized dangers of asbestos- many times fraudulently concealing the truth or outright lying about the hazards of working with our around asbestos - for the sake of profits. Asbestos companies sacrificed worker and consumer safety in reverence to their corporate pocketbooks. The conduct of the asbestos companies is especially egregious, however, because the victims were largely exploited workers who were unaware of the serious health risks they were exposed to on a daily basis only to learn decades later that they had subjected themselves to exposure to a carcinogenic substance.
Asbestos is the known cause of pleural plaques, asbestosis, mesothelioma and causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, and colon. Asbestos divides into visible strands, fiber bundles, and individual fibers, but then those visible strands, bundles, and fibers will continue to split into microscopic fibers, bundles, and strands. The splitting can continue on to minute levels of microscopic levels of detection. This process is similarly unique to asbestos and is one reason why airborne asbestos is such a problem. The fibers can become so small that they remain airborne longer and pass unhindered by the normal respiratory dust defenses. Diseases caused by asbestos have a long latency period, usually taking ten to forty years before showing any symptoms of the disease. This is especially apparent today, when people who worked with installing asbestos as insulation and other materials throughout the 1950s and beyond are just now coming to realize that they are developing cancer and other asbestos-caused diseases at alarming rates.
Asbestosis is a serious, chronic, non-cancerous respiratory disease. Inhaled asbestos fibers aggravate lung tissues, which causes them to scar. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling, as well as clubbing of the fingers and toes. In its advanced stages, the disease may cause cardiac failure.
There is no effective treatment for asbestosis; the disease is usually disabling or fatal. Those who renovate or demolish buildings that contain asbestos may be at significant risk, depending on the nature of the exposure and precautions taken.
Lung cancer causes the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure. The incidence of lung cancer in people who are directly involved in the mining, milling, manufacturing and use of asbestos and its products is much higher than in the general population. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are coughing and a change in breathing. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent chest pains, hoarseness, and anemia. People who have been exposed to asbestos and are also exposed to some other carcinogen -- such as cigarette smoke -- have a significantly greater risk of developing lung cancer than people who have only been exposed to asbestos. Some studies have found that workers exposed to asbestos and who also smoke are about 90 times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who neither smoke nor have been exposed to asbestos.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that most often occurs in the thin membrane lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and (rarely) heart. Virtually all cases of mesothelioma are linked with asbestos exposure. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma in humans. Smoking does not cause mesothelioma. An almost always fatal cancer, most mesothelioma victims diagnosed with the disease are given eight to twelve months to live. Even with early detection and the best treatment, the average five-year survival rate is only about 20 percent.
People who have worked with or around asbestos and asbestos-containing products, have an increased risk of mesothelioma. Even people who live with asbestos workers, near asbestos mining areas, near asbestos product factories or near shipyards where use of asbestos has produced large quantities of airborne asbestos fibers are susceptible to contracting the disease. Although mesothelioma is more common in men, increasing with age, it can appear in both men and women at any age.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma. There are, however, a variety of experimental treatment options with new clinical trial being introduced on a regular basis by doctors and researchers trying to find a cure for mesothelioma. The treatment used is dependant upon a variety of factors, including the extent of the disease, the age and medical history of the patient, and the location and type of the mesothelioma., but some common treatments include:
Cancers in the esophagus, larynx, oral cavity, stomach, colon and kidney may be caused by ingesting asbestos.
Millions of workers in the United States and abroad have suffered severe exposure to the environmental toxin, asbestos. Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. Its use greatly increased during World War II. Shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the a/c or heating industries, construction workers, electricians, plumbers/pipefitters, automotive mechanics, laborers, and other tradespeople have likely suffered occupational exposures to asbestos. Asbestos is found in a wide variety of products with an array of differing industries and applications.
Examples of products that might contain asbestos are:
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the generic name for any variety of silicate materials that are fibrous in structure and are more resistant to acid and heat than many other materials. Asbestos has two forms, serpentine and amphibole, and is made of impure magnesium silicate. The six types of asbestos are chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite asbestos, tremolite asbestos, and actinolite asbestos. Chrysotile asbestos is serpentine and amosite and crocidolite are amphibole. Chrysotile has historically been the chief commercial asbestos fiber type. Amosite is often used in insulating materials and crocidolite is normally used in the manufacture of asbestos-cement products. Asbestos is mined from the ground where it is typically found in veins and large deposits. Canada, Russian, and South Africa are the world’s largest producers of asbestos, although there were asbestos mines in the United States, including California and Montana. Once asbestos ore has been removed from the ground, it is milled and processed into a usable product demonstrating high tensile strength, chemical and thermal stability, high flexibility, low electrical conductivity, and large surface area.
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Benzene is a highly flammable, colorless liquid with a sweet odor. Benzene is inexpensive to manufacture, and since it is such an effective solvent, it was, and is, routinely used in manufacturing. Benzene was early identified as being a highly toxic substance, ranking in the top 10% of the most hazardous compounds to the environment and human health. Workers in the various industries where Benzene is used have developed severe anemia and many develop leukemia and permanent bone marrow damage. Because of its known dangers, worker exposure to Benzene is now strictly regulated by the state and federal agencies. However, industry still widely utilizes Benzene and Benzene-based products due to its utility and because it is so inexpensive, despite the known and recognized hazards to human health.
The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that Benzene is a recognized human carcinogen. Benzene is known to be responsible for a number of health disorders, and is linked with various types of cancers and other diseases. In addition to respiratory problems, skin problems, and blood disorders, the cancers that are linked to Benzene exposure include acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), hairy cell leukemia (HCL), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). People who are exposed to Benzene over long periods of time are at greater risk, but studies have shown that even small amounts of Benzene can cause cancer.
There are many side effects associated with long term or high level exposure to Benzene. Some of these effects cause minor discomfort, while others result in severe pain and sometimes even death. Some effects that Benzene exposure can cause include: rapid heart rate; tremors; fatigue; headaches; dizziness; confusion; drowsiness; unconsciousness; vomiting; uncontrolled convulsions; skin dryness and scaling; eye, nose, and throat irritation. The major effect of Benzene from long-term or excess exposure is on the circulatory system. Benzene causes harmful effects on the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and can affect the immune system, which in turn increases the chance for infection especially in distressed or elderly persons. Some women who breathed high levels of Benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of Benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid heart rate, or death.
Several tests can determine if you have been exposed to harmful levels of Benzene. Benzene can be tested through a breathing test, a blood test can be administered, and a urine test can also be effective for ascertaining Benzene levels in the body. Unfortunately, many tests for Benzene exposure required the patient to have been exposed to Benzene recently in order to obtain a full and accurate assessment and so it is often only after the outbreak of severe disease that Benzene exposure is confirmed.
Benzene contaminates the environment in different ways and from different products. The primary route to human exposure to Benzene is inhalation of ambient air and the main source of Benzene in the environment is from industrial processes. Benzene can migrate into the air from contaminated water or soil, and can attach to rain or snow in the air and be carried back into the ground. The general population is also significantly exposed to Benzene by inhaling cigarette smoke, but non-occupational exposures to Benzene can also occur from eating contaminated food (Benzene has been detected in fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, eggs, and fish) or drinking water contaminated with Benzene. Benzene is also present in the atmosphere from forest fires, oil seeps, volcanoes, automobile exhaust, and industrial emissions. Occupational exposures to Benzene may occur during production of Benzene or through use of Benzene-containing products. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health survey estimated that nearly 300,000 workers were exposed to Benzene at their jobs, including hundreds of thousands of Benzene-exposed women. The Environmental Protection Agency and OSHA have enforced Benzene exposure limits for workers and set forth mandates in the event of spills or accidental release of Benzene into the environment.
Workers in various occupations may have been exposed to Benzene as a part of their normal job duties. Industrial plant workers who use solvents, painters, gasoline workers, refinery workers, chemical lab workers, people in the rubber industry, pesticide/herbicide manufacturing workers, printing/newspaper personnel, paper and pulp manufacturing workers, adhesive production workers, pharmaceutical manufacturing workers, people in the wood stains and varnish industry, and leather manufacturing workers are only a few examples of trades that are particularly at risk for Benzene exposures in the workplace.
Benzene has been produced commercially from coal since the middle of the nineteenth century. Benzene is used primarily as a solvent in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. It is also highly prevalent in the petroleum industry as it is present naturally in crude oil and is a by-product of the oil-refining process resulting in gasoline and other petroleum-based products. Benzene is also routinely added to glues, paint thinners, rubber cement, varnish and shellac removers. There are over sixty manufacturers of Benzene in the United States with annual estimated production at nearly ten million metric ton and rising over the past ten years. Benzene ranks in the top twenty chemicals for production volume. The United States also imports significant amounts of Benzene from abroad.
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Since the early 1940s, scientific and medical evidence has increasingly demonstrated that working with or around beryllium causes lung scarring and lung cancer in workers and in those persons living near some industrial facilities. In fact, there are few compounds known to man which give so consistent a carcinogenic response in so many animal species as do the compounds of beryllium.
Beryllium, a chemical used in many industries, is a toxic substance that can be harmful. Exposure to it can result in serious injury and even death. A significant number of workers exposed to beryllium eventually develop beryllium disease - scarring of the lung and lung cancer. Of those workers, an estimated one out of four people may die as a result of their exposure to beryllium dust and fumes. Even at low doses, beryllium can cause lung disease and cancer.
Beryllium can also cause allergic reactions with people that are hypersensitive to this chemical. These reactions can be very heavy and they can even cause a person to be seriously ill, a condition known as Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD). The symptoms are weakness, tiredness and breathing problems. Some people that suffer from CBD will develop anorexia and blueness of hands and feet. Sometimes people can even be in such a serious condition that CBD can cause their death.
A person who works with beryllium is also at risk for taking home beryllium dust that has accumulated on clothing, in vehicles, or in hair which creates a risk of disease to even those persons not working directly with beryllium.
The EPA classifies beryllium dust and fumes as toxic air pollutants.
Nearly 1,000,000 workers in the United States work with and around beryllium. The industries in which beryllium can be found include:
What is Beryllium?
Beryllium, a metal, is lightweight, hard, non-magnetic and resistant to heat, making it a good electrical and thermal conductor. Beryllium enters the air, water and soil as a result of natural processes and human activities. It occurs naturally in the environment in small amounts. It is a metal hazardous to human health when inhaled as an airborne pollutant. It is discharged by machine shops, ceramic and propellant plants, foundries, through production of metal, and combustion of coal and oil. Beryllium has also been used by the defense industry in nuclear weapons, missiles and other applications, and it is now being widely used in numerous industries including aerospace, automotive, electronics and telecommunications.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to beryllium or have been diagnosed with beryllium disease, contact us. We can help you understand your rights and options, and see that you have the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries.
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Lead is a highly toxic substance, exposure to which can produce a wide range of adverse health effects. The National Safety Council estimates that nearly forty million homes still contain lead paint and a quarter of all homes contain some type of a lead hazard. Both adults and children can suffer from the effects of lead poisoning, although childhood lead poisoning is much more frequent. Over the many years since we have known about the hazards of lead, tens of millions of people have suffered its health effects. Even at present, the National Safety Council estimates that there are still at minimum more than four hundred thousand children under the age of six who have too much lead in their blood resulting in oftentimes irreversible injuries. Recent studies have revealed that there is likely no level of lead exposure that can be considered safe for humans.
Young children under the age of six are especially vulnerable to lead's harmful health effects, because their brains and central nervous system are still being formed. For them, even very low levels of exposure can result in severe disabilities, often lasting for a lifetime. A child who comes into contact with lead-contaminated dust or soil is easily poisoned. Normally ingested by the normal hand-to-mouth activity of children, all it takes is the lead dust equivalent of a single grain of salt for a child to register an elevated blood lead level. Exposure to excess level of lead in children can result in a range of harmful effects, including: encephalopathy (brain disease); reduced cognitive development; retinal degeneration; metallic taste in mouth; learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders; stunted growth; impaired hearing; and kidney damage; foot/hand drop; dizziness; fine motor dysfunction; impaired metabolism; and renal disease. At higher levels of exposure, a child may become mentally retarded, fall into a coma, and even die from lead poisoning. Lead poisoning has also been associated with juvenile delinquency and criminal behavior. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are currently over four hundred thousand children between the ages of one in five with elevated levels of lead in their blood.
In adults, excess lead can increase blood pressure and cause: fertility problems; nerve disorders; muscle and joint pain; irritability; depression; renal damage; kidney disease; cerebrovascular diseases; stroke; cerebral hemorrhage; irritability; fatigue; abdominal cramps; muscle pain; hearing loss; headaches; and memory or concentration problems, among many other significant problems. It takes a higher level of exposure to lead for adults than it does for kids to sustain adverse health effects. Most adults who are lead poisoned get exposed to lead at work. Workers in industries where lead is still used must also take special care not to leave their work site with contaminated clothing, tools, and facial hair, or with unwashed hands. Otherwise, they can spread the lead to their family vehicles and ultimately to other family members causing injury and disease through secondary exposure to lead. When a pregnant woman has an elevated blood lead level, that lead can easily be transferred to the fetus. And if a woman had been exposed to enough lead as a child for some of the lead to have been stored in her bones, the mere fact of pregnancy can trigger the release of that lead and can cause the fetus to be exposed and result in the baby being born with an elevated blood lead level enough to cause disease.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, scientists and lead and paint industry executives have recognized the toxicity of lead pigment in consumer products. Even though the lead industry was in a particular position to educate and advocate for the health of users of lead-based products as a result of coordinated research and studies, the lead industry instead chose to safeguard their own economic security rather than alert the public of the significant health hazards of lead demonstrated by their findings. Using marketing ploys that were often directly targeted at children, the lead industry and paint industry began a lasting campaign to promote the use of lead-based products. And when faced with mounting evidence and widespread acknowledgement throughout the medical and scientific communities that lead products, especially lead-based paint, was hazardous to the health of humans, the Lead Industries Association (LIA) launched a campaign that would “help dispel fear or apprehension about its use” as well as “to offset the stigma attached to lead,” in an effort to boost sales. In a manner eerily similar to that of asbestos companies and tobacco/cigarette manufacturers, the fraudulent misrepresentation and concealment from the public of the hazards of lead-based products are the legacy of the lead industry that sought to remain profitable and increase sales of its products even though it created a risk to the public,. The lead industry resisted calls to educate and warn the public and failed to remove lead from many consumer products or warn users of the dangers until millions of people had suffered dangerous exposures.
There are many ways in which humans are exposed to lead: through deteriorating paint; household dust; bare soil; air; drinking water; food; ceramics; home remedies; hair dyes and other cosmetics. Much of this lead is of microscopic size, invisible to the naked eye. More often than not, persons, especially children, with elevated blood lead levels have been exposed to lead in their own home.
By far the biggest source of concern is the lead paint that is found in much of the older residential and commercial buildings and schools in the United States. Lead paint that is allowed to deteriorate creates a lead-based paint hazard. It can contaminate household dust as well as bare soil around the house, where children may play. Until 1978, lead paint was commonly used on the interiors and exteriors of homes and businesses in the United States. According to HUD, about 25% of the nation's housing stock—nearly twenty-five million homes—contains significant lead-based paint hazards. Children and adults can contract serious lead poisoning when renovation and remodeling activities take place in a home that contains lead paint. Anytime a surface containing lead paint is worked on, the debris and the dust created by the work can result in lead contamination of the household environment and its occupants. Children who play in dirt contaminated by lead can end up with lead-contaminated soil under their fingernails or on their toys, or they can track it into their homes. Even pets can come into contact with lead-contaminated soil and cause human exposure to lead resulting in sickness and disease.
Drinking water can also sometimes contribute to elevated blood lead levels. Lead can leach into drinking water from certain types of plumbing materials (lead pipes, copper pipes with lead solder, and brass faucets). The past use of leaded gasoline, only recently banned in this country, contributed greatly to the number of cases of lead poisoning in the US during the last sixty years or so. The lead produced by vehicle emissions continues even today to present a hazard, as much of that lead now remains in soil where it was deposited over the years, especially near well-traveled roads and highways.
Lead has recently been found in some plastic mini-blinds and vertical blinds which were manufactured in other countries. In addition, lead may be present in old toys, some imported toys, lead-glazed or lead-painted pottery, leaded crystal, and some inks, plasters, hobby and sports materials (such as artists' paints, ammunition, stained glass treatments, or lead sinkers used in fishing).
Occupations related to iron work, demolition, painting, plumbing, electrical, lead-based paint abatement, heating/air conditioning; and carpentry/renovation activities; furniture restorers/makers; artists; welding, smelters, firing ranges, the manufacture and disposal of car batteries, mechanics; and the maintenance and repair of bridges and water towers, are particularly at risk for lead exposure.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to lead, are suffering from any lead-induced symptoms, or have been diagnosed with lead poisoning or related disease, contact us. We can help you understand your rights and options, and see that you have the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries.
Contact us for a free evaluation of your case and to discuss your rights under the law.www.epa.gov/lead/
The National Lead Information Center at 1-800-LEAD-FYI (1-800-532-3394).
The Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning; 600 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E., Suite 100; Washington, D.C., 20003
Merck & Co. withdrew Vioxx (chemical name rofecoxib), its non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), from the market in 2004. Merck & Co. withdrew Vioxx after the data safety monitoring board overseeing a long-term study of Vioxx recommended that the study be halted because of an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, among study patients taking Vioxx compared to patients who were not given Vioxx. The study suggests that patients taking Vioxx face twice the risk of a heart attack compared to patients receiving a placebo. Other studies of patients taking Vioxx have also suggested an increased risk of cardiovascular events.
Merck & Co. began marketing Vioxx in 1999 for the reduction of pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis, and for acute pain in adults and the treatment of menstrual pain. Thereafter, it marketed Vioxx to treat rheumatoid arthritis in adults and children. More than 20 billion US patients took Vioxx before Merck & Co. finally withdrew Vioxx from the market. Injured patients and their families are suing Merck & Co. for, among other things, hiding the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes from patients and their doctors.
If Vioxx has injured you or a family member, contact us for a free legal consultation.
In April 2005, the FDA asked Pfizer, the manufacturer of Bextra, (chemical name valdecoxib), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), to withdraw Bextra from the market because of the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with Bextra. The FDA concluded that the overall risk versus benefit profile was unfavorable. The FDA’s request to withdraw Bextra was based on the increased risk of life-threatening cardiovascular events in short-term coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) trials. Its withdrawal request was also based on reports of serious and potentially life-threatening skin reactions, including deaths, in patients using Bextra. The risk of these reactions in individual patients has been unpredictable, occurring in patients with and without a prior history of sulfa allergy, and after both short- and long-term use.
If Bextra has injured you or a family member, contact us for a free legal consultation.
Despite the increased risks of heart attacks and strokes, Pfizer continues to market Celebrex (chemical name celecoxib), its a COX-2 selective NSAID. Pfizer markets Celebrex for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, acute pain, and painful menstrual cycles. In April 2005, the FDA demanded that Pfizer add a black box to its Celebrex label to warn about the increased risks of heart attacks, strokes, and stomach bleeding in patients who take Celebrex. The FDA also demanded that Pfizer tell doctors about the risks of increased heart attacks and strokes in their patients taking Celebrex, and that that Pfizer conduct a long-term Celebrex safety study.
If Celebrex has injured you or a family member, contact us for a free legal consultation.
In 2004, the FDA required Eli Lilly & Co., the manufacturers of Zyprexa (chemical name olanzapine), an antipsychotic drug, to warn doctors about the increased risk of hyperglycemia and diabetes in patients taking Zyprexa. In April 2005, the FDA issued a warning about the increased risk of death, typically due to heart attack or infection, in elderly patients who take Zyprexa, and demanded that Eli Lilly add a black box to its label warning of these increased risks associated with Zyprexa. Despite these increased risks, Eli Lilly continues to market Zyprexa for the treatment of schizophrenia and acute mania associated with bipolar I disorder.
If Zyprexa has injured you or a family member, contact us for a free legal consultation.
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