Urban Fires, Demolition Cause Concern over Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report of two recent commercial building collapses that are causing emergency responders and surrounding communities to voice concerns about potential asbestos release.

Most recently in Chicago, a fire in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood destroyed several businesses on an early weekday morning. Chicago firefighters attacked the blaze from three angles outside a multi-unit building on the 300 block of East Pershing Road, which is also home to a barbecue restaurant and a wireless phone store.

A spokesperson for Fire Media Affairs stated that all the affected Bronzeville businesses have water or smoke damage inside. At some point during the nearly four-hour blaze, the commercial building’s roof collapsed and it was upgraded to a three-alarm fire. About 175 firefighters and paramedics responded to the fire, although fortunately no one was seriously injured.

Emergency crews remained on the block for cleanup into the early morning hours, however the cause of the fire has not yet been established. Asbestos was a popular material in commercial building products from the early 1900s to the late 1970s, until the mineral was officially recognized as a human carcinogen.

If asbestos fibers are inhaled, which is made possible by the sudden or unsafe handling of asbestos-containing products, the effects can be devastating. Although asbestos-related diseases take a significant amount of time to manifest in the body (between 20 and 50 years), the ultimate ailments are quick to take the lives of victims. Mesothelioma, for example, is cancer of the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen caused exclusively by asbestos, and at first diagnosis patients are typically given no longer than one year to live.

About three weeks ago in early June, 2013 in Philadelphia, a large building in Center City collapsed unexpectedly. Firefighters and other emergency responders had to rush into the wreckage to save those trapped without any safety or protective gear, and are now concerned that the older building contained large amounts of asbestos that was released in the collapse and consequently breathed into their lungs.

The emergency responders, including the city’s Fire Commissioner, are now requesting information about the presence of asbestos in the building that collapsed at the intersection of 22nd and Market Streets. The city, however, is refusing to release the information to the public. The collapse, which killed six people, occurred when construction crews were in the midst of demolishing the four-story building.

For those diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer, the dangers of inhaling asbestos are all too real. Fortunately, due to the recent surge in asbestos awareness, researchers and health care officials are taking increased notice of these diseases and are trying to develop treatments for those affected.

One French study recently focused on peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen and internal organs. This type of mesothelioma is typically treated with cytoreductive surgery (CRS) and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), however, not all patients are good candidates for such treatment, and it can be difficult for doctors to determine which patients will actually benefit.

This problem led researchers in France to test the prognostic value of the glucose transporter protein, GLUT1, in nearly 30 patients undergoing CRS/HIPEC. Researchers examined their medical records and microscopic features, measuring this information against 24 clinical mesothelioma parameters to determine how each related to patient survival post-surgery.

Results confirmed that several factors had an impact on the overall survival rate, including patterns of tumor growth and cell characteristics, and an over-expression of the proteins calretinin and GLUT1. It was confirmed that GLUT1 had the greatest influence on survival.

Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on any significant sources of possible asbestos exposure, as well as developments and breakthroughs in mesothelioma research and treatment. If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and developed a related disease, you may be entitled to significant compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress, and should contact a skilled attorney as soon as possible.

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