Friday, August 4, 2006

Mesothelioma and Asbestos

Mesothelioma is an uncommon form of cancer, commonly linked with prior exposure to asbestos. In this disease, cancerous cells grow in the protective lining (mesothelium) covering the internal organs of the body. This disease is commonly located in the outer lining of the chest cavity and lungs (pleura). It can also be found in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum), or the sac that envelops the heart (pericardium). People who contract this disease have invariably worked on jobs that put them in close contact with asbestos.

One of the characteristics of mesothelioma is that symptoms can appear very late, sometimes 50 years following first contact with asbestos. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma, the disease’s most common form, include discomfort in the chest and difficulty in breathing. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma, another form of the disease, include weight loss, abdominal swelling and pain. Blood clotting, bowel obstruction and fever are other symptoms of this type of mesothelioma. If the malignancy has spread to other body parts, then symptoms may include pain, face swelling and difficulty in swallowing food. However, it is important to remember that these symptoms are not exclusive to this disease; they can happen with other less severe conditions as well.

Over the past two decades, the rate of mesothelioma cases has gone up. Still, in the larger picture, it is a relatively rare cancer. The percentage of cases largely depends on the populations’ exposure to asbestos. In the United States, it has been reported that that frequency may have hit the highest point at 15 per million in 2004. This trend is thought to continue in other parts of the world. Interestingly, mesothelioma is more common in men than women. The risk of this disease augments with age, but a person of any age or gender can be affected. About one-fifth to one-third of all mesothelioma cases are peritoneal.

Mesothelioma Asbestos provides detailed information on Mesothelioma and Asbestos, Mesothelioma Asbestos Diseases, Mesothelioma Asbestos Treatment, Asbestos Mesothelioma Cancer and more. Mesothelioma Asbestos is affiliated with Mesothelioma Diagnosis Support.

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Friday, June 9, 2006

Abatement of Toxic Fumes When Working With Composites

Any general aviation experimental aircraft builder will tell you that when working with composites and epoxies that if you do not have a complete breathing mask and excellent ventilation that the fumes will get you higher than a kite. And those fumes are doing much more than just getting you high, as they are toxic.

The abatement of Toxic Fumes when working with Composites is indeed essential, especially in the smaller factories, which sell to larger companies and corporations and make parts. While growing up I had a friend who made Winglets for airliners, which decreased the wing tip vortices and improved efficiency of the wing, thus the aircraft used less fuel and performed better at slower speeds.

These winglets were made of composite. The gentleman’s partner ran the shop and he did sales. Within a few years his partner had a stroke and then died and it was considered later that the fumes got to him even though they did have ventilation in the shop and understood the issues when working with epoxies and composites. These things can be very bad for your lungs and such fumes and materials when not carefully controlled have caused Lung Cancers too.

As the rush for lighter vehicles, parts and such increase so to will the use of sandwich composite construction and these issues will become more prevalent as private enterprise and small businesses pick up the slack, nevertheless no matter what size the company is or where on the Earth those parts are made or which people are exploited for labor; they need to think about the Abatement of Toxic Fumes when working with Composites. Consider this in 2006.

"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance;

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Knee Deep in Asbestos

When I was 17 old I started working at an asbestos mine in the Yukon. I had the excitement of youth and looked on the thing as a big adventure.

The mine was located about 7 miles from the Alaska border on the banks of the Forty Mile River, which emptied into the Yukon River some 5 miles or so north.

I first arrived in August and started working on the Surface Crew. This was the group responsible for outside maintenance of all things on the surface. This was fine when we had those few relatively warm days in summer, but later it was a bit more difficult to be working outside in minus 55F.

One of my first duties was to keep clear the conveyor that took the unused asbestos out to the tailings piles. Tailings piles are basically the dregs of what's left over after milling the asbestos and is run out of the mill on conveyor belts to large piles behind the mill. At that time they were about 100 feet high.

I was given a shovel, and a small mask (kind of like the little paper ones that painters use) and told to go shovel off the conveyor belt on the tailings piles. Dutifully I climbed up with my little shovel to clear any blockages of asbestos from the conveyor. I remember clearly at one point standing literally knee deep in asbestos on top of this 100 foot high pile and looking inside my very poor quality mask and seeing the inside (where it's not supposed to be) all grey from the asbestos dust. I then took out my hankerchief (yes, I carried one) and blew my nose. Sorry for the rude, graphic description, but it was all grey. And that was my introduction to work at an asbestos mine.

Even back in the early 1970's it was becoming known that asbestos caused problems. Working in the mine we'd get brochures handed around periodically with propoganda about how it was never proven that asbestos was actually harmful. They were beautiful glossy brochures. I wish I'd kept one.

Though I had occasion to go into the mill for various reasons I was glad I didn't work there. There were employees that worked in the mill whose sole job was to sweep up the dust that fell on the floor. There was so much of it that this was a constant ongoing job. The asbestos dust in the mill actually fell almost like snow and covered the floor completely. Without sweepers there would probably have been several inches of asbestos dust on the floor within an hour or so. In fact, I remember seeing sweepers go by pushing their wide brooms and the new dust settling onto the floor behind them as they walked.

The Yukon itself was absolutely beautiful. Stunning in fact. I had many great experiences there and saw some natural wonders I couldn't have seen anywhere else. I had hitchiked up the Alaska Highway with a friend. In those days the highway was unpaved. Most of the trip was provided by a nice family who were travelling in an old converted school bus. Rattle and dust. Rattle and dust. But we made it finally to Whitehorse, and then on to Dawson City. I loved Dawson. It was like stepping into the past. Not just the architecture and homes but the people had that old fashion friendliness and charm, though tempered by a resolve that one must have to live in such a fierce environment.

The Yukon has a peacefullness to it. Almost a serenity that one can feel. I've found that only those who have been there and experienced it fully understand what I mean by this.

In all of this beauty I suppose the asbestos mine was a blight, or cancer on the environment. Fortunately closed down now for many years nature is recovering it's territory, but unfortunately asbestos mining has left a legacy of asbestosis and Mesothelioma with some of it's previous employees. There are many resources available with information, legal, and personal ( but one shouldn't let something that consumes the body, also consume the soul. Being human is to be somewhat fragile to the vagarities of life as it is. There's plenty of 'drama' going on without us spending all of our energies on blame. Be calm. Remember your duty in life is to help others. Be happy and try to improve life around you.

As I type this I am looking out the window, watching my grandchildren learn to fish off the seawall out back. It just doesn't get any better than this.

Phil Jones is a freelance writer, who now lives in sunny Florida, about as far as you can get from the Yukon and still be in North America. He set up the website to provide personal legal firm law mesothelioma asbestos info for those who may need it.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Are Asbestos Fibers Visible To The Eye ?

If you are in the construction business or employed by an industry that uses products containing asbestos, you may wonder Are asbestos fibers visible to the eye? Generally asbestos fibers are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Asbestos becomes dangerous when it has broken down into small fibers and is inhaled. It is nearly impossible to detect the presence of asbestos without taking the material to a lab for testing. A lab technician will put the material under a microscope to search for asbestos fibers. Asbestos does not cause an immediate reaction. It will not cause you to cough, sneeze, or your eyes to water. You cannot see, smell, or taste asbestos. If you skin becomes contaminated with asbestos it will not burn or itch.

Asbestos related diseases have a very long latency period. This is the time frame from when you are first exposed to asbestos until you become ill. Most persons do not become ill for at least ten years after exposure and some not until over forty years later. Asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma are all asbestos related diseases. Asbestosis occurs when asbestos fibers enter the lungs. The body will naturally produce an acid to combat the fibers. However, this acid can cause scarring in the tissue of the lungs and in advanced stages breathing becomes more difficult and painful. Asbestosis was first documented in shipyard workers. Asbestos can also cause lung cancer. If a person smokes and is exposed to asbestos, they have a much greater chance of developing lung cancer. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that has only been linked to asbestos exposure. It is a cancer of the cells that line the peritoneum (area surrounding the abdominal organs) and the pleura (area outside of the lungs and inside of the ribs).

There is a lot of debate and controversy surrounding which types of asbestos is harmful. Some types of asbestos are thought to be more dangerous than others but all types of asbestos exposure should be avoided. Actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, chrysotile (white asbestos), and tremolite are all types of asbestos. Chrysotile is the type of asbestos most commonly used in manufacturing products.

Asbestos fibers are not visible to the eye. If you feel you may have been exposed to asbestos, the most common method for testing is a chest x-ray. The x-ray will not show the asbestos fibers but it can spot early signs of lung disease. There is no known cure for asbestos related diseases.
Jeff Lakie is the founder of Asbestos Resources a website providing information on asbestos