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(c) 2019 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Expert Physicians Urge US to Ban Asbestos

Today's post is shared from nejm.org

"Each year, nearly 40,000 Americans die often painful, protracted deaths from diseases caused by asbestos. These deaths occur in firefighters, police officers, construction workers, miners, military veterans, shipyard workers, and maintenance workers whose exposures to asbestos are primarily occupational. Death also occurs in partners and children of such workers, whose only exposures to asbestos were from dust on clothing brought home from work by a family member. In the United States, treatment of asbestos-related diseases — including malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and ovarian cancer1 — costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

"The health hazards of asbestos were recognized in the early 20th century, but this information did not become widespread until a landmark 1964 publication documented the association between asbestos exposure and cancer. In the years after that report, the amount of asbestos used in the United States fell by more than 99% — from more than 650,000 metric tons in 19633 to roughly 750 metric tons in 2018, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey. The main drivers of this decline have been federal regulations that banned and restricted many uses of asbestos and aggressive litigation on behalf of injured workers against companies that produced and used asbestos with full knowledge of its dangers.

"Most asbestos-related deaths in the United States today are caused either by cancers of long latency that resulted from exposures decades ago or by more recent exposures to asbestos installed long ago in the form of insulation, pipe wrapping, roofing tiles, and siding in thousands of office buildings, schools, and homes. The populations at greatest risk for exposure to legacy asbestos are firefighters, maintenance workers, and people employed in the construction and demolition industries. Great diligence is required of employers and federal regulators to protect these high-risk workers against occupational asbestos exposures.

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"We believe the Ban Asbestos Now bill is long-overdue legislation that deserves to be enacted into law. Industries should no longer be allowed to propose new uses for asbestos while ignoring its inevitable effects on human health. No state — red or blue — and no congressional district has been spared the ravages of asbestos exposure. Health professionals can support this legislation individually and through our state and national organizations in order to protect the health of all Americans.

Click here to read the entire article.

A Most Reckless Proposal — A Plan to Continue Asbestos Use in the United States
Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., and Richard A. Lemen, Ph.D.
July 10, 2019
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1906207
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.
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