Asbestos Was Used as Fake Snow and Christmas Tree Decorations
A white Christmas may fill you with happy memories and warm family moments. So might the classic film The Wizard of Oz. However, before the dangers of asbestos were well known, both of these had one concerning thing in common: asbestos was used as a substitute for snow.
Fake snow has a history of dangerous substances. Before asbestos, decorators would use borax flakes or even ammonia because, like asbestos, it had a white and fluffy appearance.
While this is an interesting historical tidbit, it’s also an important warning for people even today. If you have been using Christmas decorations that have been passed down from generation to generation since the mid 20th century, there is a chance they could be contaminated with asbestos.
In addition to the Wizard of Oz, it’s recorded that asbestos was also used as fake snow in Citizen Kane, considered by many critics to be the greatest film ever produced.
Why is this so important? Asbestos is a known carcinogen directly causing mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lungs. Even small traces of exposure to asbestos have been linked to cases of mesothelioma.
In fact, while we know of the well-documented severe dangers of asbestos, it is still not completely banned in the United States. Some products that still utilize asbestos include car parts and construction materials. Traces of asbestos have even been found in cosmetic products that include talc.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Belluck & Fox can help. Reach out to our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation.
Update on Banning Asbestos in the United States
Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of most people that are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and is linked to the deaths of approximately 40,000 Americans a year. Those deaths are caused by lung cancer, asbestosis, cancer of the larynx, and ovarian cancer.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is also a known carcinogen, and is not banned in the United States. The importing of asbestos into the United States has actually increased in recent years. Asbestos is found in houses in insulation and multiple products have asbestos in them.
The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019 is a bill that will ban asbestos importation into the United States. The bill has been named for Alan Reinstein, the late husband of Linda Reinstein who died of malignant mesothelioma. Linda Reinstein is one of the co-founders of Asbestos Disease Awareness Foundation who has been working tirelessly for banning asbestos for many years.
According to the ADAO website, the bill would:
- Ban importation and use of asbestos and asbestos containing products within one year of enactment.
- Require that Chlor-alkali plants using asbestos diaphragms would need to eliminate the use of asbestos and convert to non-asbestos technology following a transition period.
- Establish a new Right-to-Know program to require anyone who has imported, processed and distributed asbestos to report and disclose to the public how much asbestos has been in U.S. commerce, where and how it has been used, and who has been exposed.
- Require the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct a comprehensive study of risks presented by “legacy” asbestos used in buildings constructed decades ago but still present in millions of residences, businesses, factories, public buildings, and schools.
- Stringently control the presence of asbestos contaminants in consumer products and construction materials.
- Apply to the hazardous Libby Amphibole form of asbestos, found in attic insulation in millions of homes.
This bill was advanced out of the Committee on Energy and Commerce by a bipartisan vote on November 19th. The next step is to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. During these divisive partisan political times this is a very important step toward the goal of passing this bill into law.
As we pause this week to give thanks for our blessings it is also a time to reflect. For the mesothelioma community it is a time to be thankful for the support of tireless advocates for all their work on making banning asbestos in the United States closer to reality. The work of a few to benefit all. Thank you for trying to make this world a safer, healthier planet.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed, please reach out to Belluck & Fox for a free consultation. With laws and information available to patients changing all the time, we can be the experts that help you find justice.
Trip or Treat?
Halloween is a big deal for children and families all across the United States, giving children (and many adults!) the opportunity to dress up and collect some great candy while they’re at it.
With a massive number of people participating each year, there is always a need to pause and think about how to stay safe and enjoy the holiday. We’ve compiled just a few tips to keep in mind as you head out this year.
- Costumes should be bright and preferably reflective to ensure trick or treaters can be seen by drivers and the people around them.
- When decorating your home, try to avoid things on the ground that trick or treaters could trip or injure themselves on. It also helps to keep your walkways well lit!
- Children should always be accompanied by an adult. Try to ensure some sort of way to communicate while you’re out – either a cell phone or walkie talkie – to avoid separating.
- It’s rare, but it is still a risk. Be sure to check candy before eating it, just in case someone had the wrong intentions. Always better to be safe than sorry.
- If you see any suspicious activity while you’re out around the neighborhood, report it. Halloween tends to be a reason for people to play pranks or worse, and we all need to look out for one another.
Lastly, have fun! While there are plenty of safety concerns to take into account, Halloween is meant to be an exciting, entertaining, and rewardingly sweet day. We hope you enjoy it this year. Feel free to share some of your best costume photos with us on social media!
Veterans get justice from Court for emergency room claims denied by VA
If you’re a veteran, you know how complicated getting medical care can be. In situations where you need emergency assistance at a facility not run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that can lead to even more frustration, and often a denial of reimbursement.
No more, says a recent federal court ruling.
The VA could be on the hook for as much as $6.5 billion in payments for hundreds of thousands of veterans who have filed or will file claims between 2016 and 2025. This is thanks to the U.S. Court of Appeals deciding that an internal VA regulation banning these kinds of rejections was “unacceptable,” according to NBC News.
Why was it so bad?
“Not only was the VA not reimbursing veterans’ claims,” reported Fox News, “but the agency was actively telling veterans they weren’t entitled to payments for non-VA emergency care when, in fact, they are.” This action is at odds with previous federal rulings that said veterans were, in fact, entitled to submit and be reimbursed for these claims.
Military Times writes that In August, the VA Inspector General discovered over $50 million that should have been refunded under existing rules.
How can I get compensation?
If you submitted a claim for emergency care from a non-VA facility since 2016, or have pending claims with the VA, you may be entitled to compensation. Belluck & Fox can help you get what is rightfully yours.
Reach out for a free consultation to discuss your situation. The specific process for claim appeals is still under development by the VA, but there is still time to get started. If your case meets the criteria, we’ll work with you to ensure your proper benefits are provided.
Breast Implants by Allergan Recalled for Link to Cancer
When you have a medical procedure, you expect a certain level of assurance that the products being used are safe. That turns out to not be the case for breast implants produced by Allergan Plc, which has recalled all of their Biocell textured implants at the direction of the FDA.
Sales of Allergan’s textured implants – and textured implants manufactured by several other companies – have already stopped in Europe due to a ban in France, been banned in Canada, and are on the docket to be banned in Australia. The other manufacturers include Arrion, Sebbin, Nagor, Eurosilicone, and Polytech.
Who is affected?
Patients who have the following implants or tissue expanders are affected by the recall:
- Natrelle Saline-Filled breast implants
- Natrelle Silicone-Filled breast implants
- Natrelle Inspira Silicone-Filled breast implants
- Natrelle 410 Highly Cohesive Anatomically Shaped Silicone-Filled breast implants
- Natrelle 133 Plus Tissue Expander
- Natrelle 133 Tissue Expander with Suture Tabs
If you or someone you know has one of the above listed products, or any textured breast implant, there may be increased risk for Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL. BIA-ALCL is actually a cancer of the immune system, rather than the breast.
What is the risk?
The Cleveland Clinic says that symptoms of BIA-ALCL include swelling or fluid accumulation in the breast or around an implant; lumps; pain; changes in the shape or size of the breast or breasts; and redness.
According to the FDA, “evidence indicated that a specific manufacturer’s product appeared to be directly linked to significant patient harm, including death.” They state that as of July 2019, there were a recorded 573 cases of BIA-ALCL globally, and 33 deaths.
CNN quoted Dr. Colleen McCarthy of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as saying that “Most patients diagnosed with BIA-ALCL will be cured by removal of both breast implants along with the scar tissue, or capsule, surrounding each implant. A small minority of patients will also require chemotherapy and radiation.”
Who can help?
If you’ve been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL and have one of Allergan’s recalled products or other textured breast implant, Belluck & Fox LLC can help. No one should have to fight for their health alone.
With over two decades of experience standing up for patients, we are committed to finding justice for you. We will provide a free consultation, and if we can take on your case, promise to fight for you and your family as if it were our own.