Archive for the ‘Asbestos Lung Disease’ Category

Nurse’s notes: Environment holds many dangers to human health

Nurse’s notes: Environment holds many dangers to human health
In the news, we read that our natural environment is in a perilous state. Climate change, biodiversity loss, disappearing natural resources, toxins that disrupt the health of plants and animals, and waste accumulating in many forms. It can be overwhelming to consider. It is even scarier when we read how this environmental degradation affects human health. It is a lot to sort through.
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What is Asbestos?

What is Asbestos?

Until 20 years ago most of hadn’t even heard of Asbestos until its hazardous properties were highly publicised in the mid 1980s.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with long fibrous crystals. It is these fibres that cause Asbestos’s toxicity due to the harm they cause when inhaled into the lungs. Inhalation of Asbestos can cause a number of very serious illnesses such as lung cancer and Pneumoconiosis.

Historically Asbestos has been used for many different purposes. In fact the Greeks nicknamed Asbestos the miracle mineral due to its versatility and ability to withstand extreme heat. Most famously Asbestos was utilised in construction but its uses were far more widespread  – the material’s heat resistance made it an ideal electrical insulator for wires and cabling for ovens and its strength was appreciated in the weaving of fabrics for clothing and table cloths etc.  By the mid 20th century Asbestos was being used everywhere, examples of products utilising Asbestos are as follows:  roof tiles, flooring, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, lawn furniture, cement for fire places, brake pads for vehicles, protective clothing for firemen etc.

Unfortunately the real dangers of Asbestos were not fully understood until recently, by which time a high percentage of buildings, particularly those erected in the late 1800s and early 1900s, already contained a significant amount in their walls and roofs.  Before Asbestos’s toxicity was brought to light it had been considered an ideal building material – it was known to be highly fire retardant, have high electricity resistance and, most importantly, was easy and cheap to use.Â

Sadly heavy use of asbestos in years gone by has exposed past generations of construction workers, carpenters and roofers to asbestos and many now suffer lung disease as a result.  Asbestos is only hazardous when the fibres become airborne because it is then that they can be inhaled. Once inhaled the fibres cannot be expelled due to their size, so they become lodged in the lung tissue.

Asbestos is now banned, either in whole or in part, in 60 countries worldwide including all of those in the European Union.

Asbestos Regulation

In 1970 the Asbestos industry maintained a voluntary ban on Blue Asbestos (the most harmful type of Asbestos) in its raw form. The ban did not, however, cover products containing the material. This ban was extended to Brown Asbestos (considered the 2nd most dangerous type) in 1980.

It wasn’t until 1986 that the UK Government imposed an official ban on the two most harmful forms of Asbestos, and any products that contained them. The official policy was introduced to: “Prohibit the most hazardous forms and activities, namely the importation, supply and use of blue and brown (crocidolite and amosite) asbestos, asbestos spraying and the installation of asbestos insulation, License most work with asbestos insulation or coatings and Strictly control the remaining risks to anyone working with asbestos (and others affected by them)”.

In 2006 the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 came into force. These new regulations combine the three previous sets of regulations covering the prohibition, control and licensing of Abestos.

The regulations prohibit the importation, supply and use of all three forms of Asbestos – Blue, Brown and white.

High Concentrations of Amosite and Crocidolite Asbestos Fibers and Mesothelioma Disease

High Concentrations of Amosite and Crocidolite Asbestos Fibers and Mesothelioma Disease

One interesting study is called, “Involvement of protein kinase C, phospholipase C, and protein tyrosine kinase pathways in oxygen radical generation by asbestos-stimulated alveolar macrophage.” By Y Lim, S H Kim, K A Kim, M W Oh, and K H Lee – Environ Health Perspect. 1997 September; 105(Suppl 5): 1325–1327.  Here is an excerpt: “Abstract – Although asbestos stimulates oxygen radical generation in alveolar macrophages, the exact mechanism is still not clear. The purpose of this study was to compare the ability of three asbestos fibers (amosite, chrysotile, and crocidolite) to generate oxygen radicals in macrophages and examine the mechanism of this action. All asbestos fibers were able to induce chemiluminescence but chrysotile induced maximal chemiluminescence at higher concentrations than amosite and crocidolite. Protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors (sphingosine and staurosporine) suppressed the ability of asbestos to induce oxygen radical generation. Phospholipase C (PLC) inhibitors (U73122 and neomycin) and protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) inhibitors (erbstatin and genistein) decreased oxygen radical generation of asbestos-stimulated alveolar macrophages. Oxygen radical generation was not suppressed by an adenylate cyclase activator (forskolin), a protein kinase A inhibitor (H-8), and a protein serine-threonine phosphatase inhibitor (okadaic acid). PLC and PTK inhibitors suppressed the increment of phosphoinositide turnover by amosite. These results suggest that asbestos fibers induce the generation of oxygen radicals through PTK, PLC, and PKC pathways in a dose-response pattern.”

Another interesting study is called, “Asbestos bodies in a general hospital/clinic population” by Modin, B.E. ; Greenberg, S.D. ; Buffler, P.A. ; Lockhart, J.A. ; Seitzman, L.H. ; Awe, R.J. – Acta Cytol.; (United States); Journal Volume: 26:6.  Here is an excerpt: “The presence of asbestos bodies in the sputum of individuals with known occupational asbestos exposure has been well documented. However, their prevalence and clinical implications in sputum and bronchial washings from patients not clinically known to have asbestos exposure remains controversial. From 1974 to 1979, 31,353 sputum and bronchial washing specimens were processed in the course of evaluating various pulmonary complaints of approximately 11,000 patients from the outpatient clinics and hospitals of the Harris County Hospital District in Houston, Texas. Asbestos bodies were incidentally found in five patients, and, in retrospect, each of them was discovered to have had significant occupational exposure to asbestos dust. Asbestos lung disease was also subsequently proven in four of the five patients and was felt, retrospectively, to have contributed to their presenting complaints and clinical course. It is concluded that asbestos bodies in sputum and bronchial washing specimens are highly specific markers for past asbestos exposure and reflect the presence of a significant asbestos load within the lungs. Sputum cytology is both painless and inexpensive and is recommended as a supplemental procedure to document clinically significant asbestos exposure.”

Another interesting study is called, “Role of Transcription Factor NF-κB in Asbestos-Induced TNFα Response from Macrophages” by Ningli Chenga, Xianglin Shib, Jianping Yeb, Vincent Castranovab, Fei Chenc, Stephen S. Leonardb, Val Vallyathanb and Yon Rojanasakula, – Experimental and Molecular Pathology – Volume 66, Issue 3, August 1999, Pages 201-210.  Here is an excerpt: “Abstract – Asbestos exposure in humans is associated with inflammatory, fibrotic, and malignant diseases in the lung. Increasing evidence supports the hypothesis that the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) is an important mediator of the pathologic responses of asbestosis. In this study, we examine the role of nuclear transcription factor-κB (NF-κB) and free oxygen radicals in asbestos-induced TNFα gene and protein expression in lung macrophages. Exposure of the cells to crocidolite asbestos caused a parallel increase in TNFα production and NF-κB activation, as analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Inhibition of NF-κB by SN50, an inhibitor of NF-κB nuclear translocation, or by sequence-specific oligonucleotides directed against the NF-κB binding site of TNFα promoter attenuated the asbestos effect on TNFα production. Gene transfection assays using an expression plasmid containing a luciferase reporter gene and a TNFα-derived NF-κB gene promoter further indicated the dependence of NF-κB activation on asbestos-induced gene expression. The effects of asbestos on NF-κB and TNFα activation were inhibited by oxygen radical scavengers and were enhanced by antioxidant enzyme inhibitors. These results indicate that asbestos-induced TNFα gene expression is mediated through a process that involves NF-κB activation and free radical reactions.”

We all owe a debt of gratitude to these fine researchers for their important work.  If you found any of these excerpts helpful, please read the studies in their entirety.

Monty Wrobleski is the author of this article, for more information please click on the following links:

Depuy ASR Recall

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Pleural Mesothelioma: Cancer of the Lining of the Lungs

Pleural Mesothelioma: Cancer of the Lining of the Lungs

If you look in a medical dictionary you will read that a disease that affects the lining of the lungs, or lung pleura is called pleural mesothelioma. Often times you may hear physicians describe this type of mesothelioma as cancer of the pleura. A fairly generalized misunderstanding of pleural mesothelioma is that it a form of primary lung cancer and this I not the case.

In actuality, pleural mesothelioma affects the serous membranes of the lungs and thus the cancer settles into these membranes which line a number of organs located around the body’s midsection – including the lungs. What is common about this cancer is that it the serous membranes of the lungs are most often affected and when this occurs, someone is said to have pleural mesothelioma.

It is common to hear the term asbestos related lung cancer. To be scientifically accurate this is a misnomer because mesothelioma does not originate in the lungs – it originates in the lining or membrane surrounding the lungs. A very common confusion is made with the diagnosis called Asbestosis which is a type of asbestos lung disease that does originate in the lungs so it is not surprising it is mistaken for mesothelioma.

As mentioned earlier, the serous membrane can be affected in organs other than the lungs and when this occurs in the abdomen, the disease is known as peritoneal mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma is another disease caused when the serous membrane surrounding the heart is cancerous. The term secondary lung cancer is used to describe the situation when mesothelioma has spread from the membranes or lining encircling the lung, abdomen or heart organs to the lung itself.

When reading about pleural mesothelioma you will find that another name or description of it is asbestos lung cancer. Again, this is technically inaccurate as pleural mesothelioma does not stem from the lungs but from the membrane surround the lung. Research indicates that 75% of mesothelioma cancers are cases of pleural mesothelioma.

The opportunity for pleural mesothelioma to develop is created by inhaling asbestos fibers which put down roots, so to speak in the lining or pleura of the lungs. As the fibers stay embedded in the membrane they begin to create a situation of chronic inflammation which over times leads to the development off cancer cells and tumors. In some situations this can also lead to asbestosis.

The most common presentation of pleural mesothelioma cancer is seen as multiple tumor growths of the pleura which affect what is called the parietal surface (inside near the lung) and the visceral surface (outside away from the lung). It is more common to find that parietal surface involvement than visceral.

Data indicates there is slightly higher incidence of mesothelioma found in the right lung than the left and it is postulated that this is a result of the inherent larger size of right lungs. There is also data to show that lower lungs have more tumor growths than upper lungs. The theory that explains this is related to gravity and that there is a greater potential for the asbestos fibers to settle lower in the lungs.

Unfortunately, mesothelioma is a disease that can take decades to be discovered thus, because of this lengthy latency period, by the time a patient is diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, the tumor growths are quite large. Because of the advanced development and size of these tumors, the lungs have become completed destroyed by them and the tumors may have progressed from the pleura of the lung to the heart and abdomen. It is not uncommon for this volatile disease to even attack the body’s lymph node and blood systems.

Chest pain is by and large the most frequent symptom of pleural mesothelioma. The pain though frequently is not directly linked with the lung pleura but will appear to generate from the shoulder or upper abdomen. Another typical symptom of pleural meothelioma is shortness of breath described as dyspnea. A cough may occur as well as weight loss to the point of anorexia in particular patients.

As the pleural mesothelioma cancer tumors develop quickly and increase the pleural space, it begins to collect fluid which causes discomfort or pain. This pain is often the catalyst that sends someone to their physician for help and what sets up the situation for the diagnosis of the disease.

There is an assortment of treatment options and more are being developed these include: surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Tim Dillard is a marketing executive who has worked with some of the largest law firms in America. Dillard is currently the president of Dillard Local Branding (, a Houston-based web design, Internet marketing and search engine marketing firm.

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Industrial Usage of Asbestos Leads to Serious Health Consequences to Workers

Industrial Usage of Asbestos Leads to Serious Health Consequences to Workers

Asbestos is a mineral that has been used in thousands of products. When it is mined, processed, or otherwise manipulated asbestos can be broken into tiny fibers that are released into the air.  When inhaled, these fibers can cause cancer.  One interesting study that examined lung tissue samples in workers is called, “A Pathological and Mineralogical Study of Asbestos Related Deaths in the United Kingdom in 1977″ by J. C. Wagner, F. D. Pooley, G. Berry, R. M. E. Seal, D. E. Munday, J. Morgan and N. J. Clark – Ann. occup. Hyg., Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 423-431, 1982 – Here is an excerpt: “Lung tissue samples from Pneumoconiosis Panel cases comprising workers whose deaths were considered to be asbestos-related and from controls exposed to different levels of urban pollution were examined histologically and analysed for mineral fibre content. The Panel cases had on average about 100 times more amphibole fibres in their lungs than the controls, but the amounts of chrysotile were similar. Considering the much greater industrial usage of chrysotile, this points to lower deposition and/or more rapid elimination of chrysotile from the lungs. There was a clear association between asbestosis grade and amphibole, but not chrysotile, content in the Panel cases; the amount of amphibole was similar for those with mesothelioma, those with lung cancer and those with neither of these tumours. “

Another interesting article is called, “Asbestos induces inflammatory cytokines in the lung through redox sensitive transcription factors” by Michael I. Luster and Petia P. Simeonova -  Toxicology Letters Volumes 102-103, 28 December 1998, Pages 271-275.  Here is an excerpt: “Abstract – Studies are summarized demonstrating that the inflammatory cytokines, interleukin IL-6 and IL-8, play a direct role in asbestos lung diseases and are produced by lung epithelial cells in direct response to the fibers. This response is controlled by changes in the cellular oxidative/state induced by iron present in the fiber through Fenton-type chemistry. As a result of this oxidative stress, the redox sensitive transcription factors, NF-κB and NF-IL-6, which help regulate cytokine gene expression, are activated.”

Another interesting study is called, “The silence: the asbestos industry and early occupational cancer research–a case study.” By D E Lilienfeld – Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine, New York, NY 10029 – American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 81, Issue 6 791-800.  Here is an excerpt: “To gain insight into corporate activities regarding the identification of occupational carcinogens earlier in this century, the actions of one industry, the asbestos industry, were reviewed. This industry, in concert with many of its insurers, systematically developed and then suppressed information on the carcinogenicity of asbestos. The development of warnings for those exposed to the asbestos was delayed. As a result, millions of workers were exposed to the carcinogen and hundreds of thousands died. These events are placed into the context of similar activities in other industries during this time.”

Another interesting study is called, “Mesotheliomas and asbestos type in asbestos textile workers: a study of lung contents.” By J C Wagner, G Berry, F D Pooley – Br Med J (Clin Res Ed)  1982;285:603-606 (28 August) – Here is an excerpt: “The asbestos contents of the lungs of former employees of an asbestos textile factory were determined at necropsy using a transmission electron microscope. Those who had died of mesothelioma were compared with a matched sample of those who had died of other causes. The predominant fibre processed in the factory was chrysotile, but crocidolite had also been used. The lung content was consistent with the known exposure to chrysotile, but the crocidolite content was also high, being about 300 times that of the general population of the United Kingdom. The lungs of those with mesothelioma did not contain more of either chrysotile or crocidolite than the lungs of the controls, so no particular type of asbestos could be implicated in causing the mesotheliomas. The evidence of substantial exposure to crocidolite means that the mesotheliomas that occurred in this factory could not be attributed with any certainty to the exposure to chrysotile.”

If you found any of these excerpts, please read them in their entirety.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to these researchers.

Monty Wrobleski is the author of this article.  For more information please click on the following links  Mesothelioma Lawyer,

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Settlements,

Asbestos Exposure

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Mesothelioma Symptoms: An Introduction

Mesothelioma Symptoms: An Introduction

Mesothelioma is a deadly and rare form of cancer that has developed from exposure to asbestos. The inhaling of the highly toxic asbestos is the major cause of mesothelioma. The ingested particles of asbestos develop the cancerous or malignant cells in the mesothelium. Mesothelium is the cell structure that covers and surrounds various internal organs.

Mesothelioma is classified into three forms: Pleural Mesothelioma, Peritoneal Mesothelioma, and Pericardial Mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma starts in tiny lumps in the membrane of pleura.

Abdominal pain, loss of weight and swelling in the abdominal region due to a buildup of fluid are the symptoms in peritoneal mesothelioma.

However, you should know that the most common diseases associated with asbestos start in a person’s lungs. Because of this, there are certain asbestos symptoms you can look for in a person to see if he or she is suffering from an asbestos lung disease.

Shortness of breath – Are you frequently running out of breath? Can’t you even go up one flight of stairs without panting or wheezing? Shortness of breath is frequently a symptom of asbestos illnesses.

Because of this, you need to take breaths more frequently. Let’s say that today you can’t manage to walk for 10 feet without getting shortness of breath. The next day, you won’t even be able to accomplish 5 without stopping.

Coughing – Another common asbestos symptom would be coughing. This symptom is triggered by the fact that the small asbestos fibers which accumulate in your lungs do irritate the organ tissue. You cough as a reflex action to try and clear your lungs of the asbestos fibers, but it is no use, and you just keep coughing and coughing without actually relieving the irritation.

An asbestos symptom that could come with coughing would be coughing up blood. This actually happens when the asbestos fibers themselves get moved around and cut into the lungs. When you cough up blood, things are very serious and it is important to find a doctor immediately.

Although asbestos fibers do cause a lot of damage to the lungs, sometimes, the lungs cause the damage to themselves. However, with asbestos fivers, this has a different effect altogether. With asbestos fibers, the involuntary action of the lungs just causes the tissue to become even more irritated and could sometimes lead to wounding. Since the lungs become even more irritated, this triggers another round of reflexive actions and the cycle goes on and on.

Increased sputum – If you are experiencing an increase in the amount of your sputum, then you have to realize that this asbestos symptom too is caused by your body’s efforts to alleviate its discomfort. By increasing the production of sputum, your lungs hope to wash away whatever the irritant is.

This is because sudden weight loss often indicates that the disease may have already spread out to other parts of the body.

These are just some of the symptoms you should keep an eye out for if ever you have been exposed to asbestos in the past. Remember, however, that some asbestos symptoms only appear when the disease is in its advanced stages so just to be sure, try to get a regular check up.

Find another guide about mesothelioma compensation, mesothelioma litigation, and mesothelioma symptom.

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