January 18, 2019

Arctic College students concerned about asbestos in residence

A couple of minor renovations are raising major concerns for students and staff at Nunavut Arctic College’s Nunatta residence in Iqaluit.

Nunatta residence is often referred to as the “Old Res” and it is one of the oldest buildings in Iqaluit. It was built in the early 1950s to house American air force crews.

Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services owns the building, which is undergoing renovations to remove mould and a front porch area while students and staff continue to use the facility.

​Jennifer Archer, the college’s co-chair for Occupational Health and Safety Standards, says staff and students are concerned for their health as the building contains asbestos.

“Basically most of the materials in this building actually contain asbestos and need to be treated as such,” she said.

Asbestos was commonly used in building construction until the 1970s. Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause respiratory ailments including lung cancer. The risk of exposure to asbestos is higher when the building materials are disturbed, such as during renovations and repairs. 

A report prepared for the Nunavut government in 2003 and obtained by CBC News details where asbestos is found in the Nunatta residence, including drywall, ceiling tiles, and vinyl flooring. It states that the asbestos-containing materials “do not currently pose a risk” but would if “the material was damaged … removed or repaired.” It also spells out how the asbestos should be removed.​

Archer says faculty members approached her about the renovations, which they felt contravened those standards.

​”There was no vapour barrier. There were no safety warnings put up; there were students and staff working in very close proximity,” she said. “There was quite a bit of dust being generated.”

The big concern for Archer is that she says workers on site didn’t seem to know they were handling asbestos.

The Department of Community and Government Services says it is aware of the asbestos, that it is contained and that students and staff are safe.

CGS says samples and air quality tests are now being done.

The department has had asbestos removed from other buildings in Iqaluit but the Old Res is the only place where people are living and working alongside the repairs.

Archer says some instructors have cancelled classes while renovations are underway.

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Arctic College students concerned about asbestos in residence

Queanbeyan residents warned on Mr Fluffy asbestos

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The council’s general manager, Gary Chapman, said the letter had gone to the 11 owners and to the tenants of the block of flats.

It warns that people should not enter the roof space or floor cavity and should not disturb the areas or the walls.

“Any cracks or holes that penetrate the ceiling, walls and floors have the potential to allow fibres into the living areas and should be repaired in a safe manner,” it says. “This includes vents in walls, exhaust fans in ceilings, openings for lighting fixtures, maintenance on openings for power points and the like.”

It is critical that tradespeople are told about the asbestos, “otherwise there is a high likelihood that they will expose themselves and members of the household to fibres”, the letter says, urging householders to also put asbestos warning certificates on their electrical meter boxes and on manholes leading to the roof space.

The letter quotes the NSW Health Department’s advice that exposure is likely to be very low provided the asbestos is undisturbed and sealed off from living areas, and says it is therefore important to make sure homes are well maintained.

“It is likely that fibres have travelled down wall cavities and even into sub-floor spaces where these interconnect with the ceiling space,” it says. “This should be assumed unless you have evidence to the contrary.

“Even in homes where the asbestos insulation material has been removed from the ceiling space, there is still a high likelihood that asbestos fibres will be found in wall cavities and in underfloor areas where the home has a timber floor.”

The council is also considering a “generic statement” about the use of asbestos in pre-1980s houses on conveyancing certificates included with all house sales.

Over the years, Queanbeyan City Council has to persuade the NSW and federal governments to help pay for the asbestos to be removed from homes, offering in 2005 to contribute funds itself, but has been rebuffed at every turn. In June, Queanbeyan major Tim Overall wrote to federal Eden-Monaro MP Peter Hendy and the state MP for the area, John Barilaro, asking for a meeting.

Mr Chapman said the council did not have the money and was not the right authority to deal with the problem.

“If you’re talking abut knocking down houses and rebuilding houses, you’re talking about many millions of dollars,” he said “It could run into tens of millions of dollars and certainly the council doesn’t have the finances to do that.”

ACT asbestos taskforce head Andrew Kefford confirmed this week he had received inquiries from Queanbeyan residents but had to turn them away.

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Queanbeyan residents warned on Mr Fluffy asbestos

Asbestos in Denver Apartment Complex Moves Out Residents; Florida Asbestos Testing Company AGC Environmental Gives …

…it [Florida asbestos testing – AGC Environmental] is being performed by certified professionals. Besides that, it cited that it is done in accordance with the state’s federal guidelines.

Denver, CO (PRWEB) February 21, 2014

Asbestos was discovered in an apartment complex in Denver. And according to a report from 9news.com, Florida asbestos testing company AGC Environmental gave out an advice how others could early detect its presence and avoid the same incident.

The report, which was published on February 16, 2014, related that the fibrous mineral was found during the removal of the hallway carpets of the two buildings in the complex. And as a result of it, around 70 people were forced to move out of their units after just a few hours, it detailed.

Temporarily, the affected residents were relocated to hotels, said the report. It relayed that it may take three weeks before they could return. Nonetheless, it added that the management said they would pay for the hotel costs and food of the tenants.

Below is an excerpt from the said report.

“It was a long weekend with an unwanted inconvenience for some people in Denver. Sunday night they learned there’s asbestos in their apartment building, and were told they had just a few hours to leave.

It happened at the Overlook At Mile High, near Colfax and Irving.”

Like mold, asbestos also poses a serious risk to people’s health, said AGC Environmental. And as it cited, one of the major health problems that it could bring is mesothelioma.

However, it also stated that if detected early, people could be spared from asbestos’ health threats. That is why it is essential to test a building for its presence, especially if it was built before the 70s and 80s, it said.

For a Florida asbestos testing and asbestos removal though, AGC Environmental asserted that its services are the best. It pointed out that it is being performed by certified professionals. Besides that, it cited that it is done in accordance with the state’s federal guidelines.

Moreover, the company said that it had been an asbestos expert witness for more than ten years. With that, it assured it could provide a detailed report and sound advice about an asbestos problem. And those, it stated, could be of great help in various courtroom appearances.

To learn more Florida asbestos training and its other environmental services, AGC Environmental invites everyone to its website at agcenvironmental.com.

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Asbestos in Denver Apartment Complex Moves Out Residents; Florida Asbestos Testing Company AGC Environmental Gives …

Asbestos work to close Town Hall room

The meeting room of Town Hall will be closed for two weeks starting Monday
while asbestos is being removed from beneath the building, a project that is expected to cost $27,000. Meanwhile, the Board of Selectmen continues to explore ways to make major renovations to Town Hall. This fall, voters twice turned down measures seeking an additional $1.1 million for the renovations. In 2010, voters agreed to spend $3.9 million on the project, but updated estimates revealed the increased cost.
Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.


Asbestos work to close Town Hall room

£350m for asbestos cancer victims

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£350m for asbestos cancer victims

Are we Serious about Asbestos?

Feature Article of Saturday, 2 November 2013

Columnist: Baidoo,Robert

Are we Serious about Asbestos?

One of the few things we who have lived in the diaspora tend to do when we return home, either for a visit or to relocate is to visit places in the local area where we spent time during the formative years of our lives. After all, these places leave an indelible mark on us and give us feelings of nostalgia. It is such urge that took me to the South Labadi Estates area near Regal Cinema, where I lived briefly with my sister immediately after Secondary School. The cinema was of course very dilapidated and not used for what I had memories of. Additionally, I noticed a vast factory that stretched from the main road to the beach.

In front of the factory were stacks of Corrugated Asbestos roofing sheets, presumably ready to be taken to various distributors or markets. Posted on the walls of the factory overlooking the stacks of the asbestos sheets were Obituaries of various demised individuals I assumed were employees or affiliates of the factory. The sight of so much asbestos sheets in a heavily residential area got me a bit concerned. Asbestos is dangerous. Why were the residents of the area moving about with no concern over its presence? Were they aware of the dangers or did they simply not care? My curiosity was fueled by my own experience with regulations on asbestos when I was remodeling my house in Los Angeles, California, to replace my heater with a central air conditioning system. Each of the contractors who came to prepare an estimate for me brought copies of regulations covering procedures for the removal of asbestos material that had been used as insulation for the old heater. They not only had the copies but were also so knowledgeable of the regulations that they could intelligently discuss each of my options with me, and offer me specific references for further perusal if I had additional questions.
With this as a background, I decided to do some research into the rules and regulations concerning Asbestos in Ghana. My initial action was to go to the Ghana Government website on the internet and type in the words, “asbestos regulations”. One of the first items that came up was an article, published in November 2005, in which Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, former Chief Executive of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, called for the Enforcement of the law banning the production and use of asbestos roofing sheets, which had been detected to cause lung cancers. Given the stature of Prof Boateng in our nation, I got very interested in following up on what he was saying. Did he mean that a law existed here in Ghana that he was calling for enforcement of or was he advocating for the passing of such a law and its enforcement? I understood his statement to mean that there is a law, and that this law in fact bans the use of asbestos roofing sheets and his problem was that the law was not being enforced.
To satisfy my curiosity, I followed up by looking at the Website of the Environmental Protection Agency, which I assumed would be the appropriate Government Agency that would oversee the regulation of asbestos, in order to assess the progress we have made in regulating the production, importation and use of not only asbestos sheets, but also all other products containing asbestos. My interest in the EPA should be obvious, after all that is the Government Agency charged with monitoring the safety of our environment, including promulgating regulations and enforcement procedures on various items that affect our environment. Furthermore, Environmental Impact Assessment reports are presented to the Agency for review and approval prior to the commencement of several significant projects including real estate development, mining, quarries, and road construction. I assumed the approval process would entail some guidelines on the handling of asbestos and related product.
I perused the website looking for publications the agency has, that will educate “we the people” on the Government’s Policy on asbestos and, at a minimum, will alert us to the dangers that asbestos poses to us as well as direct us on what to do in cases where it is present or suspected. Before going into the reason for my interest in this information, perhaps I should set the stage by first discussing some attributes of this asbestos substance:
• Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. It is popular among manufacturers and builders because it is good at sound absorption plus, it has average tensile strength, and is resistant to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage. It is also highly preferred because it is affordable. In Ghana it is commonly used in the building construction for roofing, moldings floor tiles, and, electrical insulation, inter alia. Some of these building materials are manufactured locally but others come in from the importation of automobile parts, paper products, heat resistant products, and packaging and friction products. In short, it is safe to say that we are exposed to asbestos daily because it is found in our buildings, home floors, schools, work and mines since it also occurs naturally in our soils and rocks. Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air.
• Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure are lung cancer; mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the abdomen and heart; and asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs. Because of its proven fatal effects, several countries have banned all use of asbestos, as well as the extraction, manufacture, and processing of asbestos related products.
• Early detection and immediate action on exposure to asbestos is critical because the length of exposure is directly related to the severity of the illness. Those with long-term exposure usually experience more acute forms of the illness than those with shorter exposure periods.
• Although some people develop serious ailments within a short time after asbestos exposure, some illnesses do not show symptoms until many years, even decades after initial exposure. For example, mesothelioma diagnosis usually occurs decades after the initial exposure to asbestos.
• The survival rate of the diseases caused by asbestos is poor. For instance, mesothelioma cannot be cured with today’s medical knowledge, and the average survival time after diagnosis is only one year. According to some medical sources, only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with this ailment survive more than five years. The survival rate for other types of lung cancer is just as poor with nearly 60 percent dying within one year and 75 percent within two years of diagnosis. About 16 percent of people diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer survive the disease for more than five years and only about six percent survive more than five years.
Given the above reasons, and the fact that the use of asbestos is so rampant in Ghana, one could see why I am highly interested in finding out what our Government, through the EPA had done about outright banning the use of asbestos, or at least a definitive plan to ensure that its use is gradually diminished and eventually ceased. Further, I expected to see urgent action to minimize exposure to the general population by removing existing known asbestos containing material everywhere. At the very least, seeing a large manufacturing plant located in a heavily populated area should be of a significant concern not only to our public officials but also the health officials and the area residents in particular.
It is pathetic, to say the least, that I have thus far found nothing from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of Government concerning the control and eradication of this albatross.
• My visit to the EPA website did not yield any information whatsoever regarding our national policy on asbestos, despite the calls for regulatory action. I actually went to the site and typed in the word Asbestos, and then Asbestos Laws. In both cases the comment I got in return was: 0 results found. After several tries, I gave up and on Tuesday October 8, I called the phone number (0302664697) which was listed on the website. The officer I spoke to said asbestos is banned and cannot be imported into the country. He did not elaborate on the rules covering manufacture or the removal and eradication of existing sources of asbestos. I asked where I could obtain a copy of the specific statute. According to him, only the Director can give me that information and he has travelled to Japan. Call back when he returns. Quite frankly, I am at a loss to understand why civil servants ever claim that something cannot be done because the one responsible has travelled. Is this a problem with ineptitude of subordinate staff or reluctance to delegate? Is the Director so unoccupied that he is the only one who can give information on such important issues? Or yet still, does all activity have to halt because one person is absent? One never knows and we may not get to the bottom of this issue here so we move on.

Just to make sure I covered all my options, I also visited other government and local agency websites with no success. Some of the sites I visited are:
• NHIS- No result
• ghana.gov.gh – No results found
Just so I was not way off base, I sent out a Facebook solicitation to a number of friends, hoping for someone to point me to where I can get written or other material covering the subject. Like me, not one person was able to obtain anything on the subject.
I might add that Prof. Boateng is not the only one who has called for action on this issue. The General Secretary of the International Metalworkers’ Federation, upon his return to Ghana from a conference in Vienna, in June 2005 is reported to have called on the government to ban the manufacture and the use of asbestos because it kills about 100,000 people each year. He suggested that this could be done through the ratification and implementation of the International Convention adopted by the International Labor Organization in 1986 calling for the global ban of the product.
Weak as the regulatory effort is, it is even more serious that there is no program in place to cover the removal or replacement of current substances containing asbestos and the control of further production of the material internally. Several buildings, including just about all public structures, have the corrugated asbestos sheets and other related products in them. One cannot avoid noticing it in every area of our daily lives. It is woefully inadequate to give lip service to banning the importation of asbestos, when the production of the material locally just as lethal. Additionally, with as much dust as we create, it is not too much to institute some measures to control instances where our people will be exposed to the substance by inhaling it. In fact, one would argue, and it would not be too farfetched, that there should be a plan to, over time, remove asbestos in all building structures and replace them with safer material. Granted, some officials will come up with arguments about the loss of employment of certain individuals currently employed in industries dependent on asbestos. First of all, as noted by Mr. Kpoh, “if the substance was banned there were sufficient safe substitute to replace it”. Further, jobs lost could be replaced by the substitutes and in other areas including social protection as well.
What is it that I want? Well, nothing different from what the best practices of public health are in other societies, but let me innumerate a few actions that I would like to see at the very minimum.
• First, a coherent public policy set by an act of parliament or an equivalent document that spells out our country’s desire to eradicate or control ALL contaminants, such as asbestos, to levels which prevent harm to the general public health and designating an appropriate public agency for the promulgation of rules and regulations on the enforcement of the public policy.

• Authorize appropriate agency or agencies to set guidelines and develop policies and procedures for the control and periodic monitoring of operations and other actions that lead to exposure of the citizenry to asbestos. To include:

? Identification and monitoring of the diseases caused by asbestos and/or effects of prolonged exposure to asbestos.
? Collection and dissemination of health information on asbestos including ways to control naturally occurring asbestos dust.
? Monitoring and Regulation of asbestos producing activities including manufacturing, mining, quarrying and construction.
? Procedures for the handling of asbestos occurring in around homes or populated areas.

• Task the Ministry of Health, or one of its agencies with the responsibility of tracking incidents of public exposure to Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma and other diseases related to exposure to asbestos and recommend mitigating policies as needed.

It is certainly not possible to enumerate all that needs to be done to ensure public safety on this issue, however, some of these suggestions should start us in the right direction. Further, any such public policies and other actions should be widely disseminated to the general public.
I have had discussions with several friends and relatives who insist that I should accept conditions as they are and be thankful for what I have. It makes me wonder. Is this what I should be thankful for? That my leaders have to be told to care for my health and welfare? It is such moments that I am reminded of words from Kwesi Brew’s poem, A Plea for Mercy:
“…Why should we the sons of the land
Plead unheeded before your shrine?
When our hearts are full of song
And our lips tremble with sadness?…”
“…But we have come in tattered penury
Begging at the door of a Master…”


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Are we Serious about Asbestos?

Asbestos halts work on roof replacement at Science and Technology Museum

The Canada Science and Technology Museum has halted work on replacing its roof after asbestos was discovered in roofing materials in the nearly 50-year-old building.

The museum discovered earlier this month, on the first day of the renovation project, that cement in the roof had a one-per-cent concentration of asbestos, said Fernand Proulx, the interim president and CEO of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation.

“As we started taking some of the membrane off, we notice some of the materials didn’t look quite like concrete,” Proulx said Friday.

When testing confirmed the presence of asbestos, the museum corporation halted work and brought in Stantec Consulting Ltd. to test air quality, beginning the evening of Oct. 16.

The tests did not detect the presence of asbestos fibre, and showed only “minimal or non-existent particulate readings, well below required standards,” the corporation said in a news release.

Proulx said the museum is now conducting air quality tests on a regular basis. “We’ve had zero traces at this point and we’re monitoring it,” he said.

The museum plans to reseal the roof over the next two or three days and postpone the roof replacement for several months while it figures out how to proceed, Proulx said. “Because of the asbestos, we’re going to have to have a different approach to take (the old roof) out.”

While Proulx stressed there was no risk to museum visitors or staff, he said the problem will cause “a little disturbance” in the museum, with plastic protecting some of the artifacts. He doesn’t expect the problem to interfere with the public’s ability to visit the museum.

“If through any kind of adjustments to the ceiling there was any kind of risk where the air quality was diminished, we’d have to take other actions at that point,” he said. “But we’re pretty confident we can manage it.”

The St. Laurent Boulevard museum is housed in a former bakery warehouse that is needs $3.4 million in major structural repairs, according to the museum corporation’s 2013-14 budget.

The budget estimated the cost of the roof replacement at $2.5 million, but Proulx said that is likely to rise because of the asbestos problem.

He said it may be possible to do “a little bit” of the work on the roof before the summer if the museum corporation decides to do it in phases. “With all the tourists, it’s not the kind of construction you want to have in a peak summer season,” he said.



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Asbestos halts work on roof replacement at Science and Technology Museum

Asbestos in rocks won't stop northern Wisconsin mine, GTac maintains

Despite what one geologist calls an “abundant” quantity of asbestos-like mineral on the site, Gogebic Taconite has no plans to abandon efforts to develop a $1.5 billion open pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin.

Bob Seitz, a spokesman for Gogebic Taconite, said Tuesday there are ways to address the release of any asbestos during the mining process, where rocks are crushed and the iron ore extracted with magnets. He says it could as simple as using water to control dust at the site.

“If it’s something we can handle and if we can demonstrate this to the state and federal governments, then we can move ahead,” says Seitz. “We’ll continue to do scientific testing as required by law.”

A pair of scientists have found at least 100 pounds of asbestiform grunerite in two piles within an old test pit in eastern Ashland County. The discovery is being called a game changer by mine opponents and has brought calls for GTac to stop work on a project supporters say could create hundreds of new jobs and boost the Wisconsin economy.

Grunerite is commonly known as “brown asbestos” and has been linked to lung disease in mine workers, according to a study in Minnesota. Grunerite is also similar to asbestiform particles found in the taconite tailings once dumped into Lake Superior by Reserve Mining, one of the costliest environmental cleanups in U.S. history in the 1970s.

Seitz is familiar with those issues but says mining operators in Minnesota today are familiar with handling the hazardous material and expects that similar procedures can work in Wisconsin.

“They treat it like any other workplace issue,” he said. “It’s been found in parts of the Mesabi Range and they’ve dealt with it there.”

Concerns over the mine project have intensified in the past week following a report in the Ashland Daily Press that UW-Madison Geochemist Joseph Skulan and Northland College Geologist Tom Fitz identified at least 100 pounds of grunerite on the mining site. It is the same mineral identified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey.

The Bad River Tribe, which has opposed the project from the outset, has since accused GTac of covering up the issue as part of its public relations campaign to build support for the project. In July, the company wrote the DNR saying it did not think there was any asbestos on the site, even though a staff geologist suspected it following a site visit this spring.

“It’s a deal breaker,” said Bad River tribal chairman Mike Wiggins in a statement. “Geologists and children could walk in there and see it with the naked eye. This is a compelling, premeditation for disaster, a disaster that would befall the Bad River Reservation and non-tribal people of the Bad River Watershed.”

The Penokee Hills Education Project has also called for the project to be tabled because of asbestos issues.

Dave Blouin, a mining expert with the Madison chapter of the Sierra Club, doesn’t dispute there are ways to safely handle asbestos at the mine site, but says those methods may be too expensive to make the project financially viable.

“Even if you can engineer your way out of it, there are huge costs involved,” he says.

Moreover, given the glut of iron ore on world markets, Blouin questions whether investors would ever take a chance at a Wisconsin mine site where asbestos might prove a risk.

“There are much more attractive options out there if you are looking for an iron play,” he says.

The 2003 Minnesota study being cited by mining opponents concluded that exposure to asbestos was the most likely cause of 14 of 17 cases of mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer. The study also found that mesothelioma occurs at twice the expected rate among the population of the northeastern region of Minnesota where the Iron Range is located.

GTac spokesman Seitz says he is familiar with that study but noted that spouses of mine workers did not appear to suffer any health impacts, suggesting that any exposure to hazard materials is limited to the mining site itself and can be managed.

GTac earlier said it did not believe asbestos was at the site, based on exploratory work done by U.S. Steel several decades ago. U.S. Steel had the mineral rights for the site in the 1950s but never developed the mine, choosing instead to develop in Minnesota where the ore body was closer to the surface.

Asbestos is a set of naturally-occurring silicate minerals that became increasingly popular as a building material in the late 19th century for its sound absorption, resistance to fire and low cost. It was widely used as electrical insulation and in building insulation.

But in the early 20th century, researchers began to note lung problems and early deaths in asbestos mining towns. Despite those concerns, thousands of tons of asbestos were used in World War II shipbuilding. Later studies found 14 deaths from mesothelioma per 1,000 shipyard workers.

As worker safety and environmental concerns increased in the 1960s, efforts began to reduce public exposure. By the late 1970s, court documents proved that asbestos industry officials knew of asbestos dangers since the 1930s but had concealed them from the public, sparking lawsuits that continue today.

All European countries and much of the developed world have since banned asbestos. The U.S. has tight regulations on asbestos but not an outright ban, despite numerous attempts at legislation. It is still used here in brake pads, automobile clutches, roofing materials, vinyl tile and in some imported cement pipe and corrugated sheeting.

While any mention of asbestos causes great concern in this country, asbestos is still widely used in other places and is commercially mined in Russia. The New York Times recently detailed the asbestos industry in Russia, noting that the mines there are a major health concern both for workers and those living nearby.

Russia has the world’s largest geological reserves of asbestos and mines about a million tons a year, exporting about 60 percent of it. Demand remains strong for asbestos in China and India, where it is still widely used in insulation and building materials.

Continue at source: 

Asbestos in rocks won't stop northern Wisconsin mine, GTac maintains

Research and Markets: Asbestos-Cement and Cellulose Fibre-Cement Articles: European Union Market Outlook 2013 and …


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Research and Markets: Asbestos-Cement and Cellulose Fibre-Cement Articles: European Union Market Outlook 2013 and …

Mesothelioma: Two groundbreaking trials into treatments for asbestos-related cancer

Sep. 23, 2013 — University of Leicester researchers are leading two major trials into treatments for a type of cancer which affects those exposed to asbestos.

Professor Dean Fennell, of the University’s Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, is leading two groundbreaking trials into mesothelioma — a form of lung cancer strongly linked with exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma most commonly starts in the inner lining of the chest wall, causing it to thicken, reducing lung capacity — which in turn puts a strain on other organs including the heart.

Since the 1960s, it has been known that the disease can be triggered by the inhalation of asbestos fibres.

Despite the UK’s ban on asbestos issued in 1985, the number of deaths caused by the disease each year has grown from 153 in 1968 to 2,321 in 2009 — the highest incidence in the world.

This number is set to continue to rise sharply over the next 20 years, with a peak coming in 2020.

Two studies involving the University of Leicester aim to test new potential treatments which could improve survival and quality of life for mesothelioma patients.

Meso2, a study funded by Synta Pharmaceuticals, aims to test the effectiveness of a drug called ganetespib in preventing mesothelioma tumours.

Ganetespib inhibits the action of a protein in cells called heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) — which is required for the stabilization and proper functioning of many proteins required for tumour growth.

The trial will involve around 140 patients across the UK, and is being led by Professor Fennell.

Professor Fennell said: “We think this is a new way of being able to target mesothelioma. Laboratory tests show ganetespib is extremely active in mesothelioma — and combined with chemotherapy, this treatment could shrink cancers down and improve symptoms for patients.”

The second trial is part of a global trial named COMMAND (Control of Mesothelioma with MAiNtenance Defactinib) sponsored by pharmaceutical company Verastem, which will investigate a new drug called defactinib.

The researchers believe the drug could help to inhibit focal adhesion kinase (FAK), which is critical for the cancer stem cells’ development into tumours.

The drug could potentially reduce the need for repeated chemotherapy treatment by killing cancer stem cells remaining following front-line therapy.

The trial will involve around 350-400 mesothelioma patients worldwide — and the University of Leicester is leading the study for the UK, which was the first country to open the trial worldwide.

Professor Fennell, who sits on the steering committee for the trial, said: “Cancer stem cells can cause cancer to return after chemotherapy, and the FAK protein seems to be something that cancer stem cells require. If you inhibit FAK protein, you may be able to target the cancer more effectively.

“We hope that both of these trials will be positive studies for mesothelioma patients.”

Original source: 

Mesothelioma: Two groundbreaking trials into treatments for asbestos-related cancer