Sunday, July 27, 2008

Where Does Mesothelioma Cancer Come From?

According to the American Cancer Society one in 125 men over the age of 50 die from an asbestos related cause be it emphysema, lung cancer or mesothelioma. So naturally this begs the question, "Where did it come from?"

Even though asbestos is a group of naturally occuring minerals, the primary source of infection has been construction. While popularly believed to be a phenomena of the 20th century, as mentioned earlier asbestos related ilnesses were documented as early as the 18th century almost all centered around construction. The reason of course is because of it's low cost and durability. Older homes of course are more prone to be inundated with asbestos related materials. The reason is because the fibro, as asbestos is sometimes called, was coated with a cement mixture, like anything over time that cement mixture dissolves admitting asbestos to the air supply. For those of you concerned about whether or not your home is at risk, these are some of the following factors to consider:
1. How old is your home? While some of us might be old enough to remember stories of our ancestors being born in log cabins, most of us have grown up in post WWII housing. Which unfortunatley is considered the sweet spot of asbestos related ilness. If your home was built from the mid 40's to the mid 70's, there is a chance you could be at risk for asbestos related ilness.
2. Does your house have shingles or siding? Almost all shingles manufactured in the last 70 years have asbestos related materials. Even today's roofing shingles contain components similar to asbestos. If you live in an older home with asbestos shingles, do not build an enclosed deck. In fact, if it is within your budget, go ahead and side your home. Siding is more energy efficient and is considered more asthetically pleasing to the eye anyway.
3. If you have an acoustic ceiling and you notice significant deterioration, it is time for a new ceiling and an inspection of your home. Prior to the 1980's, asbestos was a common material in ceiling manufacturing.
4. When redoing an older home always use a mask. Whether your'e doing an add-on or simply tearing down a wall and opening up space for a room, you don't know what the home was comprised of. So if you have remodeled an older home without a mask, you could be at risk.

Here's a point to consider-While the tragedy of 9/11 took over 3000 lives from multiple countries, the effects of the collapse of the building could be felt for decades to come. As those buildings were built in the early 1970's, fiberglass and asbestos were common components. In fact many hundreds if not thousands of rescue workers are now battling lung diseases. It is estimated that the collapse could have contaminated the air supply of up to 2 million New Yorkers that day and in the years since. It is important to remember in the immediate aftermath of the assaults, Mayor Guiliani courageously led recovery efforts from Ground Zero. But prudently did so with a mask over his face. Imagine all the New Yorkers that did not. For this reason if you live in a high demolition area such as in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, or Chicago you should be aware of your surroundings and informed of any scheduled demolitions as this is air you do not want to come in contact with.
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Emily's Story

I know a girl. A beautiful vibrant girl, who lives in an apartment down the street from me. Her family is poor, but the digs are acceptable. She is 15, goes to school, gets into mischief, and generally is a free spirit. Her mom is tough as nails. Works in a factory to provide for her daughter, deals with all kinds of stress.

I know a girl, still beautiful but less vibrant, working hard to contrbute to her family, also in a factory, still harboring dreams. Wants her own business, she says. As soon as her Mom beats the mesothelioma. You see out of the twenty or so occupants of this complex, over half would develop mesothelioma. This girl, Emily and I are five years apart. She is hurting and does not know why.

What I did not tell you was Emily did not develop mesothelioma. She developed ovarian cancer. You see of the twenty or so occupants of this complex, all but one would develop some form of cancer. Yet no one to this day has torn the deathtrap down.

Her heighbor has just recently passed, and her Mother is now terminally ill. It is now just a matter of a few days. Problem is Emily has to forego her own treatment to be there for her Mother in her last days, and is compromising her own health in the process.

As the last of her Mother's posessions are divied up amongst the family, the stress of the funeral and her own illness has taken a toll on the beautiful, now 22 year old girl. She collapses.

I know a girl and her name is Emily. Five years after her collapse she is stll battling. I hope I never have to say I KNEW a girl.

Friday, July 25, 2008

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What Is IT?

Mesothelioma is an unusual cancer of the mesothelium, a sort of tissue that covers the lungs and abdominal organs. Such tumors can spread rapidly and may not be responsive to current cancer treatments. patients unfortunately often die within two years of being diagnosed. Because of this prevention is the best way to fight this cancer. Mesothelioma was first observed in the eighteenth century and by the early part of the twentieth, it was believed to be caused by occupational exposure to asbestos.

In 1960, a physician in South Africa found that some 85% of his mesothelioma patients had worked in or lived near asbestos mines. Such a connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma has now been verified. Perhaps as much as 70% of people, if not more, with mesothelioma report being exposed to asbestos.

WHAT IS ASBESTOS? Asbestos is best described as a low density element made up of millions of tiny, heat-resistant fibrils. Fibers such as these make the material a good insulator. Asbestos was used almost exclusively in housing construction and ship insulation before 1999. Due to a light weight its, it found favor as a filler in concrete. Asbestos is associated with lung cancer and other lung conditions in addition to mesothelioma. As a result of extensive study, in 1989 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned an extensive number of asbestos applications in the United States. However, predictable corporate pressure ensued and tat ban was later revised and not implemented until 1999. Puzzingly, asbestos is still found in such materials such as flooring tiles, brake pads, cement products, and asbestos clothing. Asbestos products made before the ban also still remain.

END RESULT: As a result of the lung inhabitation by these fibrils, white blood cells are dispatched by the body to defend the lungs though create only a worsening situation because the fibrils are well protected and the cells themselves end up damaging the lung tissue, and end up creating mesothelioma. More to come...