Articles Posted in Asbestos

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College students in the Los Angeles, California area this year, are now being asked to keep track of more than just their studies as they attend classes at California State University Northridge. They are also being expected to know how to identify and avoid toxic asbestos containing materials recently located on campus, which could cause their death many years after they have graduated. A report released in January by the California State University Northridge environmental health & safety department indicates that there are still eighteen buildings on campus contaminated with asbestos-containing construction materials. The report was released in satisfaction of the University’s requirement to notify the public annually of locations of asbestos under the California Health and Safety Code.

The California State Legislature adopted the public notification requirement in the California Health and Safety Code in response to the public health threat posed by asbestos. Every year thousands of people are diagnosed in the United States with mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers released from asbestos containing insulation and construction products. A majority of these products were manufactured, sold, and distributed prior to the 1980’s, however asbestos use is still not banned in the United States. In fact, in 2010, the use of asbestos in the United States increased, as compared to 2009 figures. Disturbingly, mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases do not appear in patients until decades after the victims inhaled the asbestos fibers.

Alarmingly though, despite the fact that University California State Northridge has identified locations of the asbestos containing materials, in proximity to its student body, it currently has no plans to abate the asbestos and remove it. Rather, California State University Northridge is taking the position that as long as the asbestos is not disturbed or removed in an improper manner, it does not pose a hazard to the student population.

The University is advising the teachers and students to try to avoid drilling or punching holes, affixing objects to ceilings or walls, in locations identified in the report where asbestos is present.

According to California Mesothelioma Attorney, Mike Mandelbrot, of the Asbestos Legal Center in San Francisco, that’s not realistic, and not enough.

“California State Northridge is playing Russian Roulette with the innocent lives of their students.”, said Mr. Mandelbrot. “The University knows full well it cannot control whether any person who enters those contaminated building might disturb the asbestos containing materials and expose others who are present. Moreover, another earthquake certainly could dislodge the material. The health risk to the public far outweighs the cost of removing the asbestos containing materials. The University should start removing the material without delay.”



According to California State University Northridge staff, after the Northridge earthquake of 1994, asbestos was identified and removed from some of the buildings on campus during the renovation projects.

The current study identified the asbestos containing materials during building inspections wherein material samples were collected. Later a laboratory analysis of the material were performed meeting testing standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health and Environmental Protection Agency.

Specifically, the asbestos containing material found on campus included floor and ceiling tiles, thermal pipe insulation, weather stripping, putty, and asbestos containing pipes commonly referred to as transite.
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Philadelphia based Crown Holdings, Inc., a company with three manufacturing plants in the state of Minnesota, is presently paying lobbyists to lobby the Minnesota State Legislature to make changes to product liability laws in the state. They hope to escape future liability from lawsuits brought by Mesothelioma patients for exposures to asbestos caused by the company.

Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can cause Asbestosis, Lung Cancer, and Mesothelioma, an incurable disease the claims the lives of thousands of Americans every year. Often symptoms from the disease do not result for decades after the exposure to asbestos fibers has occurred. Veterans of the United States Navy and of the other U.S. Armed Forces, as well as those who worked in the construction industry, are particularly at risk for Mesothelioma, as compared to the rest of the population. This is due to the fact the asbestos was used extensively as in insulator aboard naval vessels, and as a durable heat resistant binder in construction materials.

Crown claims that it actually never manufactured any asbestos containing products itself, but rather merged with a separate company in 1963, that had manufactured the asbestos containing products. Thus, the company believes it is being wrongly punished for the acts that a separate company committed against the public. However, advocates for victims of asbestos related disease believe Crown is playing a word game, and are critical of Crown’s claims.

California attorney Mike Mandelbrot, of the Asbestos Legal Center in San Francisco, whose firm has filed thousands claims on behalf of individuals suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, believes Crown’s claims to be meritless, “Crown is today worth over eight billion dollars, in part, as a result of it’s merger with a company that exposed thousands of people needlessly to asbestos. Where it has profited from the merger, it also must accept responsibility for it, to those many families who now suffer from profits made at the expense of the public’s health.”

Crown claims that it has been involved in approximately one hundred and fifty asbestos related lawsuits in Minnesota in the last fifteen years, resulting in over seven hundred million dollars in litigation expenses and damages. That the lawsuits be allowed to continue Crown believes is inequitable.

“The fact that there are still lawsuits being filed against Crown, is because people are still dying from mesothelioma and asbestos exposure caused by the company’s bad acts. Every victim and their family deserve justice.”, according to Mr. Mandelbrot. “Crown’s efforts highlight the disturbing trend of money influencing politics at the expense of those who have been injured by unchecked corporate greed.”



The Minnesota State Legislature is not the first state legislature that Crown has lobbied for changes in product liability law. With the help of The American Legislative Exchange Council, Crown has successfully lobbied for changes in the product liability law of fifteen other states. Those who oppose Crown’s efforts point out that workers compensation claims related to asbestos exposure were being filed against the company Crown merged with prior to 1963, thus Crown was on notice of the asbestos liability issue prior to merging with the company.
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Today, Saturday, February 4th, 2012, the Asbestos Legal Center encourages members of the public to join us in celebrating World Cancer Day. In particular we honor the memory of those we have lost to mesothelioma and lung cancer, two cancers caused by exposure to asbestos.



Due to it’s numerous United States Navy Bases, Ports, and Industrial Shipyards, California is a state whose residents are particularly affected by asbestos related cancers. Asbestos was used extensively in shipyards in California, including the cities of San Diego, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Stockton, Oakland, Alameda, San Francisco, and at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, throughout much of the latter half of the 1900’s. Used for it’s fire retardant and heat insulating properties, asbestos was used to insulate the interior of ship hulls, as well as steam piping and equipment found in boiler and mechanical rooms. Unfortunately, many of our Veterans were exposed to asbestos while serving in the United States Navy.
Exposure to asbestos is problematic, as the fiber, when inhaled, can cause lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a cancer found in the mesothelium lining of the lung. There is no cure for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma claims the lives of 2000 to 3000 people in the United States every year.

Despite the public health threat, asbestos is not banned in the United States. For decades the use of asbestos has been curtailed arguably, by the courage of mesothelioma and lung cancer patients, who have brought lawsuits against the asbestos industry. Often times lawyers for the victims argue the company who sold the asbestos-containing product, is strictly liable for the harm caused by it, because the benefit of the asbestos-containing product is outweighed by the harm of the cancer it caused in the person who used it. This is known in legal acumen in California, as the “Strict Liability Test”. Additionally in California, a person who sick with mesothelioma often can have their case fast tracked, so that they are afforded an opportunity for a jury to hear the case, before the victim dies.

Many of the companies who sold asbestos containing products in the 1960’s and 1970’s have gone bankrupt, leaving behind asbestos settlement trusts to compensate victims. However, disturbingly, asbestos use is again on the rise. Recently, a U.S. government report showed an increase of over 25% in the use of asbestos, from 2009 to 2010, alarming lawyers representing the victims. “Every year, cancers caused by asbestos exposure claim the lives of thousands of Americans, whose deaths were entirely preventable. It is our firm’s mission to fight on the memory of those we have lost, seeking justice and compensation on behalf of our clients.”, said Asbestos Legal Center founder Michael Mandelbrot.

The Absestos Legal Center made news in August, 2011, when it committed $500,000 over the next 3 years to a mesothelioma medical research, relating to the treatment of veteran within the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System.
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