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Tuesday, July 19, 2016


People rarely comment on this blog site, but I do get e-mails.  One of the exceptions was India Sucks, an article that drew 54 comments...most of them agreeing with me, and many of them of high humor.  My Huffington Post publications sometimes got more than a hundred responses.  Today I introduce a subject far from my personal interest, but of importance to some others.

How many of you know that asbestos:
  • Is a natural silicate that is mined?
  • Has been mined for 4500 years and caused respiratory problems as far back as Roman times, mostly to slaves working in asbestos mines.
  • Marco Polo marveled at a piece of cloth that did not burn when thrown into a fire.
  • Was again recognized as dangerous in the 1920's into the 1930's.
  • But was not restricted or banned until the '80's and '90's.
  • However, continued to be used in certain products such as Crayola crayons (until 2000), which we all once used.
  • Johns-Manville Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 1982, at the time the largest company ever to do so, because of 16,500 lawsuits and a history of hiding evidence.  By the early 90's more than half of the 25 largest asbestos manufacturers also went under.There have been 700,000 claimants just in the U.S., and the cost of litigation in the country could approach $275 billion.  The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was Hurricane Katrina, and the total damages were less than $100 billion.
  • As recently as 2009 Russia produced half the asbestos.
  • 100,000 have died in the U.S. only from asbestos related to ship building.
  • All types of asbestos can be bad for your lungs, and the latency period is usually 12-20 years, although potentially up to 40 years.  Clearly, the World Trade Center 9/11 aftereffects are yet to come.
  • There is NO SAFE LEVEL for asbestos exposure when the material becomes airborne.
  • There appears to be some correlation to prostate cancer.
  • Individual asbestos fibers are microscopic (more than a thousand times thinner than hair--that large oval to the right) and it is this particular size that gets lodged into lungs and skin.  The cancerous effect is not chemical but physical.  This size is on the order of chromosomes, getting sometimes entangled into the double helix.
  • Asbestos is banned in many countries, but not the USA.
I now and then have a guest poster.  Today I will share a message from Katherine Keys.  The topic is rather arcane, but so are most of my efforts.

Hi Pat,

I really enjoyed looking through your site and I thought you might be interested in my message.

My name is Katherine Keys and I have been fighting mesothelioma cancer for the past 9 years. If you don’t know, mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. People can be exposed to asbestos in many ways. My exposure was a result of asbestos being spread into the air when the office I was working at was remodeled.

At the age of 49 I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma and was told I had less than two years to live. But I was determined to stay positive and beat this cancer against all odds! My treatment included having my right lung and the lining of the lung removed--a major surgical procedure. Soon after, I began several months of radiation therapy.

I am overjoyed to say that my fight paid off and now 9 years later I am still cancer free! But I know I did not face this battle alone. The doctors and staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center are true miracle workers and I am forever grateful to them.

I was also helped greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. Not only did they help me obtain financial compensation which helped with my treatments and quality of life, they genuinely care about my well-being. I am proud to call them my friends and they continue to stand by my side as I fight mesothelioma.

I feel it is my duty to give back to the community--to let people with asbestos diseases know they are not alone. There is help available!

Would you be so kind as to post a link to on your website? I know together we can help a lot of people!

I look forward to hearing from you, Pat. Thank you!

At last check 220 countries had visited my site, so, Katherine, your message is out to the world.  Never give up.

I noticed yesterday that most political polls show Donald Trump within a few points of Hillary Clinton.  The fact that he continues to draw support after insulting just about everybody is confounding and surprising.  Tomorrow, I'll try to explain why.

While there continue to be three ocean storms, none is of hurricane strength.