The Ongoing Battle Against Asbestos
Despite awareness efforts and public outcry, asbestos has never been fully banned in the United States. In fact, under the Trump Administration, companies may be allowed to once again utilize this dangerous industrial material under the highly controversial “Significant New Use Rule” (SNUR).
Asbestos is a naturally occurring cluster of silicate minerals that release deadly “fibrils” when damaged. This fibrous silicate used to be a popular construction material due to its affordability and insulating properties. However, once its toxicity became public knowledge, many companies had to reorganize their business models or file for bankruptcy to prevent lawsuits.
A Slow & Deadly Killer
Asbestos exposure is incredibly dangerous because it leads to a rare and aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. This fatal cancer develops in the tissue linings of a person’s lungs, heart, and abdominal organs. Mesothelioma symptoms can take 20-50 years to appear. For example, a construction worker who used mesothelioma in its heyday may not even realize they are infected for decades. Once noticeable symptoms start appearing, his life expectancy immediately drops to about 5 years. Sadly, most patients only live about 12 months after they have been diagnosed. While treatments and surgeries are available, they mostly just serve to extend a patient’s life. There is still no cure for mesothelioma.
Even if you haven’t been exposed to asbestos materials or products in over 40 years, it’s still important to notify your doctor that you may be at risk of developing mesothelioma. It’s a very difficult disease to diagnose, especially when symptoms take so long to develop. This can help your doctor pinpoint your symptoms quickly and get you started on a treatment plan.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any effective treatment options for mesothelioma. Even drugs tend to stop working once the cancer cells adjust and evolve. In certain cases, the tumors in a patient’s internal organs may be resistant to chemotherapy or radiation before treatment even begins. This occurs when chemotherapy drugs kill the nonresistant cells and leave the resistant cells to thrive and reproduce. Alternatively, cancer cells may modify and adapt to the chemotherapy drugs, rendering them completely ineffective.
A patient’s first line of treatment is usually a combination of chemotherapy with cisplatin and pemetrexed. Unfortunately, even if there seems to be noticeable improvements, remission is common. Second-line therapies include drugs that are not approved by the FDA. In fact, the FDA hasn’t approved any new mesothelioma treatments in over 14 years.
Second-line therapies that are not FDA-approved include:
Patients can also request surgical treatments to remove the cancerous tumors lining their organs. The most common procedures are extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy/decortication (P/D). However, most mesothelioma patients are not healthy or strong enough to survive these surgeries or the associated medical complications.
The Legal Problem
Asbestos is responsible for 2,500 mesothelioma-related deaths each year. Due to the efforts of corporate interest groups, the United States is one of the only developed countries that still allows construction companies to utilize asbestos materials. For example, “popcorn ceilings” were popular way into late 1980s. Fortunately, once scientists and medical professionals recognized the mineral’s carcinogenic properties, dedicated American lawmakers and public awareness groups worked tirelessly to restrict the use of asbestos. However, the only laws that have successfully been passed are the 1973 Clean Air Act and the 1989 Asbestos Ban and Phase Out law.
Recently, the Trump Administration has caused widespread panic amongst patient advocacy organizations and advocacy groups. According to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the government should have the legal authority to regulate how corporations utilize asbestos on a case-by-case basis. This SNUR allows industrial companies to once again produce and import asbestos-containing products and materials. The EPA claims that this SNUR is meant to protect public safety by regulating how corporations profit from asbestos. In reality, President Trump has long been an advocate of asbestos and is trying to promote relations with certain foreign countries that manufacture asbestos products. In fact, the EPA is altering its evaluation process regarding any potentially harmful chemical substances. This government agency plans to ignore existing asbestos studies and scientific reports in order to cater to the Trump Administration’s agenda.
Spread Awareness & Pursue Legal Action
The only way to stop mesothelioma is to cut off the source. By spreading awareness about the dangers of asbestos, lawmakers may feel pressured to draft new legislation and proposals that may finally ban this harmful substance from being used in our country. Hopefully, public investment can also encourage scientists and the FDA to develop and approve new treatments that can cure this devastating cancer.
If you’ve contracted mesothelioma due to working with asbestos in the past, you may be able to file a claim against your negligent employer. Many asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy since the connection between mesothelioma and asbestos became public knowledge. While the companies are protected by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, you can still pursue a lawsuit against a company’s personal injury trust.
At Shrader & Associates, L.L.P., our trial-tested mesothelioma attorneys provide compassionate counsel and personalized legal services to clients across the nation. Our experienced legal team can investigate your case, accumulate applicable evidence, and identify the negligent parties that must be held responsible for your illness. To safeguard your quality of life, we can litigate relentlessly on your behalf to maximize your claim.
Contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P. at (877) 958-7920 to schedule a consultation.