Thursday, November 26, 2015

New Drug May Help Mesothelioma Victims

Recently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new medication in the treatment of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and melanoma. The drug, called Keytruda and manufactured by Merck, has shown positive results in the treatment of patients with mesothelioma. This is important, as the treatment options for mesothelioma are currently severely limited.


An individual may develop mesothelioma after prolonged exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, this was common for much of the twentieth century, as up until the 1980s asbestos was used extensively in numerous products. Asbestos becomes dangerous when microscopic fibers are disturbed and released into the air. When breathed in, these fibers may remain in the lungs for many years before serious issues become apparent. Construction workers, carpenters, and shipyard workers are just some of the individuals who were placed at risk due to their occupations.

New Drug May Help Mesothelioma Victims

Keytruda attacks and kills cancer cells by targeting a protein called Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1). The drug will treat patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer in which the disease has progressed despite the use of alternative treatments. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, in 2015, it is estimated that there will be 1,658,370 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States. Additionally, an estimated 589,430 people will die due to the disease.

Dr. Hossein Borghaei, a lung cancer and mesothelioma specialist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, stated, “[f]or an early-stage investigation into this terrible disease, it’s very encouraging to have the kind of results that the investigators are reporting.” According to one study made up of 25 mesothelioma patients who had unsuccessfully undergone chemotherapy and who had tumors with the PD-L1 protein, 76% showed improvement after around 5 ½ months. Furthermore, 48% of the individuals in the study had their tumors stop growing and 28% had their tumors shrink.

Individuals may find that the side effects of Keytruda are more tolerable than chemotherapy. These side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • An increased feeling of fatigue;

  • Decrease in appetite;

  • Shortness of breath;

  • Impaired breathing;

  • Development of a cough; or

  • Severe immune system-related issues.

According to Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Keytruda will allow physicians to specifically target patients who they believe are the most likely to benefit. Dr. Pazdur explained the progress being made against cancer, stating, “[o]ur growing understanding of underlying molecular pathways and how our immune system interacts with cancer is leading to important advances in medicine.”

Compassionate Legal Help

The development of Keytruda signals a bit of good news for victims of mesothelioma. If you have been diagnosed with this disease, it may be possible for you to recover against those responsible for your exposure to asbestos. Recovery can be critically important for covering the cost associated with medical treatment. For more information, contact an attorney experienced in asbestos-related matters. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel to where you live to provide help.



New Drug May Help Mesothelioma Victims

Friday, November 20, 2015

Asbestos Use in Adhesives

Adhesives are used to help bond numerous types of materials. Beginning early in the 1900s, it was common for asbestos use in adhesives . Unfortunately, microscopic asbestos fibers are dangerous when inhaled into the lungs. By the 1980s, the dangers were so widely known that asbestos use was largely discontinued.

Asbestos Use in Adhesives

Adhesives are used in flooring, wallpaper, HVAC systems, and many other construction materials. Additionally, they were used to patch seal joints on boilers and pipes on United States Naval ships because, when these adhesives contained asbestos, they were capable of withstanding extreme heat and fire. Fortunately, asbestos-containing adhesives have low toxicity levels and are not friable. As a result of this, the only adhesives banned by the Environmental Protection Agency are sprayed-on asbestos adhesives that contain more than one percent asbestos and flooring felt adhesive.

The majority of liquid, non-roofing adhesives that contained asbestos were created through the use of bagged asbestos. The asbestos was placed into a fluffing machine in order to separate the fibers. Next, resins or solvents were added in a batch-mixing tank, along with pigments or fillers. Once complete, the material was packaged in metal pails, smaller containers, or tubes. By 1985, about 9.6 million gallons of asbestos non-roofing adhesives, sealants, and coatings were being produced. However, throughout the 1980s, the use of asbestos began to decline due to awareness of the danger, coupled with the filing of lawsuits, which increased insurance costs.

Danger of Exposure

Most adhesive materials with asbestos contained up to 25% asbestos. Fibers are released as adhesives break down over time. These fibers can also be released during renovation, demolition, or regulator construction if adhesives are damaged or disturbed. Additionally, seals may wear down and flake or peel away. Some of the occupations at risk of exposure to asbestos-containing adhesives included construction workers, HVAC workers, and Navy veterans.

While the use of asbestos in adhesives largely stopped in the 1980s, older homes or buildings may still contain asbestos-containing adhesives. Some of these adhesives can be abated without the help of a professional. However, black adhesive should always be tested for asbestos. If asbestos is detected, the material should be abated by a professional. It is important to never sand or grind adhesives, as this can release fibers into the air. While adhesives are not considered as dangerous as other asbestos-containing materials, it is still necessary to take precaution against exposure.

Microscopic asbestos fibers are dangerous when released into the air where they can be breathed into the lungs. Once in the lungs, these fibers may remain for many years before the development of serious diseases, like mesothelioma or other cancers, become apparent. Unfortunately, these diseases are often life-threatening and result in significant medical bills.

Compassionate Help

If you have been exposed to asbestos and believe that this may have led to the development of health issues, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. It may be possible for you to recover needed damage awards from those responsible for your asbestos exposure. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel to you to provide the help you need.


Asbestos Use in Adhesives

Monday, November 16, 2015

Crown Cork and Asbestos

An interesting company that continues to be liable for asbestos exposure is Crown Cork and Seal, which is now known as Crown Holdings, Inc. (Crown). Founded in 1892 and headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Crown never actually manufactured a product that contained asbestos. Rather, the acquisition of another company in the 1960s exposed Crown to the risk of potential lawsuits for asbestos-related issues that remain today.

About Crown

Crown has never filed for bankruptcy and, as a result, does not have an asbestos trust fund. Today, the company is the largest metal packaging company in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Crown is involved in numerous markets, including packaging for drinks, foods, health and beauty items, and household and industrial products.

Crown’s liability in relation to products that contained asbestos came about after it acquired the New York-based Mundet Cork Company (Mundet) in 1963. Mundet manufactured cork-lined bottle caps, which was what attracted Crown to purchase the company. But, Mundet also made insulation products and cement, both of which contained significant amounts of asbestos. While Crown sold off all but the bottle-cap division, the company still remains liable for the exposure to asbestos that Mundet was responsible for.

Crown Cork and Asbestos: Who is at Risk?

There were numerous people placed at risk due to products created by Mundet. These included employees of the Mundet insulation and cement division and customers who used Mundet products, which included several oil refineries and the U.S. Navy. The largest use of Mundet products was commercial, which placed repairers and installers at increased risk.

Insulation workers were at particular risk because they used Mundet products for insulating pipes, walls, and boilers in order to keep those products from overheating and becoming susceptible to fire. Frequently, insulators worked in confined spaces, which increased the risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. Chrysotile asbestos was used in the insulation of pipes because it became strong and cohesive when used along with magnesium.

Family members of workers who dealt with products that contained asbestos were also placed at risk. This is because asbestos dust, which contains dangerous, microscopic fibers, remains on clothing and hair. When a person who came into contact with asbestos dust returned home from work, it was possible that asbestos fibers could be released into the air, which family members may have then breathed in. This was a particular risk for family members responsible for cleaning the clothes of workers exposed to asbestos.

Some of the products that Mundet created that contained asbestos included:

  • Mineral wool finishing cement;

  • Mineral wool insulating cement;

  • Cork 85 percent magnesia asbestos insulation;

  • Block insulation; and

  • Pipe covering.

Compassionate Legal Advocacy

Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to serious health consequences such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. If you believe you may have developed a disease related to asbestos exposure, contact an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, we understand the difficulty of dealing with asbestos-related diseases. We look forward to discussing how we can help you.

Crown Cork and Asbestos

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Asbestos in Vinyl Products

Vinyl was first produced in the 1920s and continues to be used today. Made up of plastic resin, vinyl is used in many building and housing applications due to it being simultaneously flexible, sturdy, and durable. Unfortunately, some vinyl products may be dangerous because they contain asbestos.

Asbestos in Vinyl Products

The use of asbestos was common in vinyl because it made the product stronger and better insulated, while also being relatively inexpensive. Vinyl was used in all different kinds of structures such as residences, schools, and commercial buildings. Some of the common products asbestos was used in include:

  • Vinyl sheet flooring;

  • Vinyl wallpaper; and

  • Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT).

There were numerous companies that manufactured vinyl products that contained asbestos, including:

  • Armstrong World Industries;

  • Congoleum Corporation;

  • GAF Corporation; and

  • Synkoloid Corporation.

Vinyl Products and Asbestos Exposure

In comparison to other products that contained asbestos, vinyl products are considered less dangerous. This is because asbestos in vinyl is not highly toxic and typically not friable. A product that is friable is susceptible to being broken, releasing fibers into the air through small amounts of pressure. As a result of this, the use of asbestos in vinyl was not prohibited. However, the use of asbestos began being phased out in the 1980s due to the health concerns that exposure to asbestos fibers raised.

While the use of asbestos in new products largely ended in the 1980s, older buildings and residences may still contain products with asbestos. However, if the material with asbestos is in good condition, the risk of exposure is relatively low. This is particularly true for products like tile or wallpaper, which are both considered non-friable. But, cutting, sanding, or disturbing these products can still release fibers into the air.

The most dangerous vinyl product is vinyl sheet flooring. This product often came in very large pieces, which were cut down to size to fit the particular application. It was common for vinyl sheet flooring to have an asbestos backing that is considered friable, meaning disturbing or damaging the product is likely to release fibers.

Due to the fact that vinyl wallpaper and floor tiles contain asbestos that is not considered friable, abatement of those products typically does not require a license. This means that a homeowner that comes across these materials can perform the removal themselves. If doing so, it is important to always wear proper personal protective equipment and dampen all tiles and wallpaper before removing them to limit the chance asbestos dust will be released. Importantly, vinyl sheet flooring must be handled by a professional.

Helping Victims

Individuals exposed to asbestos fibers may be at an increased risk of developing serious health issues such as mesothelioma or asbestosis. If you have been diagnosed with a disease that you believe may be related to asbestos exposure, contact an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel to where you live to provide you the help you need.

Asbestos in Vinyl Products