Showing posts with label asbestos los angeles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label asbestos los angeles. Show all posts

Thursday, June 4, 2015

City in Russia Unable to Kick Asbestos Habit

ASBEST, Russia — This city of about 70,000 people on the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains is a pleasant enough place to live except for one big drawback: when the wind picks up, clouds of carcinogenic dust blow through.
Asbest means asbestos in Russian, and it is everywhere here. Residents describe layers of it collecting on living room floors. Before they take in the laundry from backyard lines, they first shake out the asbestos. “When I work in the garden, I notice asbestos dust on my raspberries,” said Tamara A. Biserova, a retiree. So much dust blows against her windows, she said, that “before I leave in the morning, I have to sweep it out.”
The town is one center of Russia’s asbestos industry, which is stubbornly resistant to shutting asbestos companies and phasing in substitutes for the cancer-causing fireproofing product.
In the United States and most developed economies, asbestos is handled with extraordinary care. Until the 1970s, the fibrous, silicate mineral was used extensively in fireproofing and insulating buildings in America, among other uses, but growing evidence of respiratory ailments due to asbestos exposure led to limits. Laws proscribe its use and its disposal and workers who get near it wear ventilators and protective clothes. The European Union and Japan have also banned asbestos. (A town called Asbestos in Quebec, Canada, has stopped mining asbestos, though it hasn’t changed its name.)
Photo
Retirees living in Asbest, including Tamara A. Biserova, center, and Nina A. Zubkova, right.CreditOlga Kravets for The New York Times 
But not here, where every weekday afternoon miners set explosions in a strip mine owned by the Russian mining company Uralasbest. The blasts send huge plumes of asbestos fiber and dust into the air. Asbest is one of the more extreme examples of the environmental costs of modern Russia’s deep reliance on mining.
“Every normal person is trying to get out of here,” Boris Balobanov, a former factory employee, now a taxi driver, explained. “People who value their lives leave. But I was born here and have no place else to go.”
Of the half-dozen people interviewed who worked at the factory or mine, all had a persistent cough, a symptom of exposure to what residents call “the white needles.” Residents also describe strange skin ailments. Doctors interviewed at a dermatology ward say the welts arise from inflammation caused by asbestos.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is a branch of the World Health Organization, is in the midst of a multiyear study of asbestos workers in Asbest. Because of the large number of people exposed in the city, the researchers are using the location to determine whether the asbestos causes ailments other than lung cancer, including ovarian cancer. “All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans,” the group said.
Standing on the rim of the world’s largest open pit asbestos mine provides a panoramic scene. Opened in the late 1800s, it is about half the size of the island of Manhattan and the source of untold tons of asbestos. The pit descends about 1,000 feet down slopes created by terraced access roads. Big mining trucks haul out fibrous, gray, raw asbestos.
The Uralasbest mine is so close by that a few years ago the mayor’s office and the company relocated residents from one outlying area to expand its gaping pit.
So entwined is the life of the town with this pit that many newlyweds pose on a viewing platform on the rim to have their pictures taken. The city has a municipal anthem called “Asbestos, my city and my fate.” In 2002, the City Council adopted a new flag: white lines, symbolizing asbestos fibers, passing through a ring of flame. A billboard put up by Uralasbest in Asbest proclaims “Asbestos is our Future.”
The class-action lawsuits that demolished asbestos companies in the United States are not possible in Russia’s weak judicial system, which favors powerful producers. Russia, which has the world’s largest geological reserves of asbestos, mines about a million tons of asbestos a year and exports about 60 percent of it. Demand is still strong for asbestos in China and India, where it is used in insulation and building materials. The Russian Chrysotile Association, an asbestos industry trade group, reports that annual sales total about 18 billion rubles, or $540 million. And the business is growing, mostly because other countries are getting out of the business.
The mine and the factory Uralasbest owns are the principal employers. The town depends on the jobs that mining asbestos and making asbestos products bring. Nationwide, the industry employs 38,500 Russians directly while about 400,000 people depend on the factories and mines for their livelihood, if supporting businesses in the mining towns are counted. About 17 percent of Asbest residents work in the industry.
Asbest is a legacy of the philosophy known as gigantism in Soviet industrial planning. Many cities wound up with only one, huge factory like this town’s sprawling asbestos plant. The cities, known as monotowns, were an important engine of the economy. A Russian government study counted 467 cities and 332 smaller towns that depend on a single factory or mine. A total of 25 million people out of Russia’s population of 142 million people live in towns with only one main industry that cannot close, even if it is polluting.
In a sign of just how scarce other employment options are in Asbest, a guard requires cars leaving the factory to open their trunks, lest anyone try to steal scrap metal for resale. That is about the only other way to make a meager living in Russia’s old industrial towns.
The trade association says that the type of asbestos mined in Russia, called chrysotile, is less harmful than other types. The United States, though, has tightly restricted its use. The country imports about 1,000 tons of asbestos, mainly from Brazil, for use in aerospace and automotive industries for items like clutch pads. “They consider it dangerous but we consider it safe,” said the association’s spokesman, Vladimir A. Galitsyn. Russia has three research institutes dedicated to studying uses for asbestos.
“As a representative of the industry, I don’t see any problem,” he said. Properly handled, asbestos is safe, he said, and it saves lives in fires. “We are not the enemy of our workers. If they died, then people would be afraid to work for us.”
Valentin K. Zemskov, 82, worked at the mine for 40 years and developed asbestosis, a respiratory illness caused by breathing in asbestos fibers, which scar lung tissue. “There was so much dust you couldn’t see a man standing next to you,” he said of his working years. For the disability, the factory adds 4,500 rubles, or about $135, to his monthly retirement check, which would be enough to cover only a few restaurant meals.
Still, he said the city had no other choice. “If we didn’t have the factory, how would we live?” he said, gasping for air as he talked in the yard of a retirement home. “We need to keep it open so we have jobs.”
A monument to residents who died was made, grimly, of a block of asbestos ore, with the inscription “Live and Remember.”
“Of course asbestos dust covers our city,” said Nina A. Zubkova, another resident of the retirement home. “Why do you think the city is named Asbest?”


Correction: July 18, 2013 
An article on Sunday about Asbest, a Russian city that remains dependent on the mining of asbestos despite the health perils, misstated Russia’s asbestos output in one reference. It is about a million tons a year, as the article noted at one point, not “about 850,000 tons,” the figure used in another reference. (The lower figure was from the Russian trade association’s Web site; the higher one from a more detailed year-by-year breakdown from the United States Geological Survey.)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Jury awards woman $13M for exposure to asbestos in talcum, Asbestos Removal, Los Angeles CA

A Los Angeles jury awarded $13 million to a 73-year-old woman who contracted a deadly disease from using asbestos-containing talcum powder manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Jurors deliberated for two hours Tuesday before finding that New York-based Colgate was 95 percent responsible for Judith Winkel's mesothelioma, a fatal lung disease, according to her lawyers. The verdict included $1.4 million in damages for her husband.
Winkel's lawyers said she got the rare cancer from using Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder.
"This is an example of the legal system exposing what a company should have been honest about 50 years ago," attorney Chris Panatier said. "Judith Winkel only wanted a jury to hear the truth about this product and hopefully to help others who are similarly exposed."
While billions of dollars have been paid in verdicts and settlements to people sickened by exposure to asbestos, it's often in cases related to use of the mineral in construction materials or insulation. Tiny fibers of the carcinogen can be breathed in and lodge in the lungs, leading to fatal illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The Food and Drug Administration conducted a study more than five years ago that found no asbestos in cosmetics it tested containing talcum powder. However, the agency said there's been concern about asbestos contamination in talc since the 1970s. Some studies have shown a possible association between use of talc powders and ovarian cancer but have not conclusively linked the two, the agency said.
Jurors found the company negligent for the design, manufacture or sale of the product and found that it presented a substantial danger that they failed to warn consumers about.
Colgate, which sold Cashmere Bouquet in 1995, said it was disappointed with the verdict.
"We believe that the facts and evidence presented at trial showed that Cashmere Bouquet ... played no part in causing the plaintiff's illness," the company said in a statement.
Panatier said it was the first verdict against Colgate-Palmolive involving asbestos exposure from talcum powder.
An appeals court in New Jersey recently affirmed a $1.6 million verdict awarded to a man with mesothelioma who said he got the disease from cosmetic talc.
In Winkel's case, there will be no appeal. She and Colgate reached a confidential settlement Wednesday before the jury was set to hear evidence to determine punitive damages.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/2ffffb0190144091a38d3a9be9c5ca95/jury-awards-woman-13m-asbestos-exposure-talcum

Friday, August 23, 2013

Asbestos disposal Los Angeles

First Portable, Real-Time Asbestos Detector Offers Promise Of Better Workplace Safety


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First Portable, Real-Time Asbestos Detector Offers Promise Of Better Workplace Safety







Asbestos was once called a miracle material because of its toughness and fire-resistant properties. It was used as insulation, incorporated into cement and even woven into firemen's protective clothing. Over time, however, scientists pinned the cause of lung cancers such as mesothelioma on asbestos fiber inhalation. Asbestos was banned in the many industrialized countries in the 1980s, but the threat lingers on in the ceilings, walls and floors of old buildings and homes. Now a team of researchers from the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. has developed and tested the first portable, real-time airborne asbestos detector. They hope that the prototype, described in a paper published today in the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Optics Express, will be commercialized in the U.K. in the next few years, providing roofers, plumbers, electricians and other workers in commercial and residential buildings with an affordable way to quickly identify if they have inadvertently disturbed asbestos fibers into the air.

"Many thousands of people around the world have died from asbestos fiber inhalation," says Paul Kaye, a member of the team that developed the new detection method at the University of Hertfordshire's School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics. "Even today, long after asbestos use was banned in most Western countries, there are many people who become exposed to asbestos that was used in buildings decades earlier, and these people too are dying from that exposure."

Currently, the most common way to identify hazardous airborne asbestos at worksites is to filter the air, count the number of fibers that are caught, and later analyze the fibers with X-ray technology to determine if they are asbestos. The approach requires expensive lab work and hours of wait time. An alternative method to evaluate work site safety is to use a real-time fiber detector, but the current, commercially available detectors are unable to distinguish between asbestos and other less dangerous fibers such as mineral wool, gypsum and glass. The University of Hertfordshire team's new detection method, in contrast, can identify asbestos on-site. It does so by employing a laser-based technique that takes advantage of a unique magnetic property of the mineral.

When exposed to a magnetic field, asbestos fibers orient themselves to align with the field. The property is virtually unique among fibrous materials. "Asbestos has a complex crystalline structure containing several metals including silicon, magnesium and iron. It is thought that it is the iron atoms that give rise to the magnetic properties, but the exact mechanism is still somewhat unclear," says Kaye. Kaye notes that his team wasn't the first to try to exploit the magnetic effect to develop an asbestos detector. "Pioneering U.S.-based scientist Pedro Lilienfeld filed a patent on a related approach in 1988, but it seems it was not taken forward, possibly because of technical difficulties," he says.

The Hertfordshire team's new detection method, developed under the European Commission FP7 project 'ALERT' (FP7-SME-2008-2), works by first shining a laser beam at a stream of airborne particles. When light bounces off the particles, it scatters to form unique, complex patterns. The pattern "is a bit like a thumbprint for the particle," says Kaye, sometimes making it possible to identify a particle's shape, size, structure, and orientation by looking at the scattered light. "We can use this technique of light scattering to detect single airborne fibers that are far too small to be seen with the naked eye," he says. After identifying the fibers, the detector carries them in an airflow through a magnetic field, and uses light scattering again on the other side to tell if the fibers have aligned with the field. "If they have, they are highly likely to be asbestos," Kaye says.

The team has tested their detector in the lab and has worked with colleagues in the U.K. and Spain to develop prototypes that are now undergoing field trials at various locations where asbestos removal operations are underway. "Our colleagues estimate that it will take 12 to 18 months to get the first production units for sale, with a target price of perhaps 700-800 U.S. dollars," Kaye says. As production increases after the initial product launch, Kaye hopes that costs may be cut even further, making the detectors even more affordable for an individual plumber, electrician or building renovator. "These tradespeople are the most frequently affected by asbestos-related diseases and most who get the diseases will die from them," Kaye says. The team hopes that, over time, the new detector will help to reduce the 100,000 annual death toll that the World Health Organization attributes to occupational exposure to airborne asbestos.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/260047.php

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles

http://www.ewastedisposal.net