EPA to broaden risk review of Asbestos

After tremendous pressure from activist groups filing lawsuits in California, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) settled on October 12 and agreed to further research asbestos fiber types and illnesses resulting from exposure to the silicate mineral. 

Previous EPA reviews of asbestos published in December 2020 examined the effects of only a small segment of products and uses that contained asbestos. The December 2020 report studied chyrostile asbestos, the only variety of the substance that is presently imported and used in the United States for producing chlorine. 

Activists groups, attorneys, and people suffering from the effects of asbestos exposure saw this study as severe mismanagement on the part of the EPA. As a result, lawsuits filed in California Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit sought to force the EPA to paint a more accurate picture of asbestos’ effect on peoples’ health throughout the years. 

This push for new research and review will include all six types of asbestos fibers, not just the chryostile asbestos originally studied, and will examine all diseases related to the substance. Asbestos used in the construction of buildings and machinery before it was considered a serious health hazard, known as Legacy Asbestos, continues to affect people across the country and is part of the new study’s focus. 

Asbestos has been linked to a number of different devastating cancers and diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer. Asbestos is naturally occurring and was used in ancient times, but came to sweeping popularity in the 1970s for use in construction and the automobile industry due to its fireproofing properties. 

As part of the settlement, the EPA has agreed to complete its review by December 1st, 2024 with regular updates being released every 180 days.

Asbestos exposure injury lawsuits, including those exposed to asbestos in talc products, are still currently being filed for individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, cancer & other serious injuries.

 

Mesothelioma Trial to Test Cancer Vaccine with Immunotherapy

A research team at Oslo University Hospital in Norway has opened a mesothelioma clinical trial using the novel UV1 cancer vaccine alongside a promising immunotherapy combination. This is the first time UV1 will be studied with mesothelioma cancer, but it already has shown safety and signs of efficacy when on malignant melanoma, prostate cancer and lung cancer in studies worldwide.

It will be used with the immunotherapy combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab, also known by brand names Opdivo and Yervoy, respectively.

“Even if we can’t promise efficacy at this point, we believe mesothelioma is a relevant cancer in which to test this vaccine,” Dr. Jens Bjorheim, chief medical officer at Ultimovacs, told The Mesothelioma Center, “ The hope is clinical efficacy and overall survival benefit.”

The phase II, randomized study involves treatment in a second-line setting after tumor progression with first-line chemotherapy for those with unresectable disease. UV1 works by targeting telomerase, a cancer antigen that helps cancer cells divide uncontrollably.

“The vaccine helps the immune system do its job,” Bjorheim said. “Hopefully the vaccine further enhances what the immune system is designed to do – kill cancer cells.”

Like most in the medical community, Bjorheim believes that the future of cancer care involves immunotherapy. Finding the right combinations, though, has been difficult, especially for rare cancers such as mesothelioma.

 

Ohio Appeals Court Rules Honeywell Must Face Asbestos Suit

An Ohio appeals court revived a widow’s suit against Honeywell alleging that her late husband was exposed to asbestos in its brake products, finding that a jury could conclude that her husband’s mesothelioma was caused by his exposure.

The panel said there are genuine issues of material fact over whether James Maddy’s exposure to asbestos form Bendix brake pads at his workplace was a substantial factor in causing his cancer.

James Maddy began working in 1980 as a supervisor at a company called Fixible. Thomas Burkhart, his former coworker, was the only witness who testified about his asbestos exposure, the panel said.

“From at least 1980 through 1983 (and likely much longer) the Bendix brake products to which Maddy would have been exposed when he was in, or passed by, the work area would have contained asbestos,” the panel said.

Maddy’s wife also presented evidence that would allow the inference that during a number of months in 1989, Maddy was exposed to asbestos dust from the grinding and chiseling of used Bendix brake linings, according to the panel.

Maddy was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in April 2014 and died just a month later at the age of 70, according to the opinion. His death certificate said that his cause of death was respiratory failure due to mesothelioma.

“This was a great win for a client that has fought a long time for it,” The plaintiff’s representative said. “It is good to see that the typical rules for reviewing an order granting summary judgement still apply in the context of asbestos-exposure claims.”

 

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