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Deadly dust caused death of man who cut asbestos
By Shaun Worth
Mar 16 2005 - A NEWBURY joiner died after years of prolonged contact with sheets of asbestos which he would cut "like planks of wood", an inquest was told.
Melvin Raymond, 63, worked with the harmful substance without protective gear, during spells with Vickers Armstrong, Hedges Joinery and Stradlings in Newbury.
Mr Raymond, who was born in Cold Ash in 1941, underwent several rounds of medical examinations, including biopsies and X-ray scans, after doctors discovered fluid in his lungs in February last year.
He was finally diagnosed with a malignant tumour, mesothelioma, in October.
Mr Raymond, who lived in Derwent Road, Thatcham, died of bronchial pneumonia - caused by the tumour - at the Duchess of Kent hospice in Liebenrood Road, Reading, on February 17 this year.
His daughter Christine wept at the Reading inquest as Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford offered his condolences, before returning a verdict of death by industrial disease.
Mr Bedford said: "This is an all too sad and familiar set of circumstances.
"It's a truly horrible disease, and I'm so sorry it had to happen to a member of your family."
Asbestos found after big blaze at apartments
FIREFIGHTERS TO DECONTAMINATE GEAR
By Crystal Carreon
Mercury News - Mar. 29, 2005 - San Jose firefighters who trudged through the Glen Willow Apartments last week battling the six-alarm blaze must decontaminate their equipment after asbestos was found in the building, fire officials said Monday.
Fire Capt. Allison Cabral said the property management notified the department Sunday of the presence of asbestos in the 42-year-old complex. Officials promptly directed the firefighters who worked on the fire to decontaminate their equipment, jackets, pants, hoods and gloves as a precaution. A notice that they may have been exposed to asbestos will also be put in the firefighters' personnel files.
Cabral said a preliminary assessment found 1 percent of asbestos in the walls and 7 percent to 8 percent in the ceilings, some of which became airborne after the fire. She said an evaluation of the building's safety was expected to be completed today by the Greenspan Company, the San Jose insurance adjusters representing the building's managers.
Calls to the Greenspan Company were not returned Monday. Neither was a call to the managers, identified in property records as Nasrin and Dariush Etessam of Los Gatos.
Terry Lee of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said the agency has been notified of asbestos in the building and will monitor the material's disposal.
Lee said authorities typically will find 2 percent to 3 percent asbestos in ceilings of older buildings, though asbestos in insulation or piping could increase the amount detected.
The federal government banned the use of asbestos in building materials in 1978; the Glen Willow Apartments were built in 1963.
There are no studies available on short-term effects of asbestos exposure, but chronic contact with the material has been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Some residents who returned to the Willow Street complex to claim more of their property had to sign a waiver before entering the building, said Cynthia Shaw, a Red Cross spokeswoman. Last week, more than 200 people were allowed into their apartments for 10 to 15 minutes to grab their personal belongings.
Shaw continued to help many of the displaced tenants find housing Monday, and planned to operate the shelter at Willow Glen Middle School through Thursday.
About 30 to 40 people have stayed at the shelter since Wednesday's fire. The fire displaced 243 tenants, and caused an estimated $4 million to $5 million in damage. Its cause remained under investigation Monday.
Contact Crystal Carreon at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 920-5460.
Ministries to seek complete asbestos halt
Despite 'ban,' some uses are still permitted for dangerous material
The health and trade ministries will jointly ask 18 industry groups to stop all use of asbestos as soon as possible, sources said Wednesday. The groups will include the Federation of Electric Power Companies, Japan Chemical Industry Association, and Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association, the sources said.
The ministries will hold an emergency meeting Thursday to deal with the issue, they said.
Japan finally banned use of the unburnable material last year, except in cases where substitutes were deemed unviable. But asbestos is still used today to make such items as gaskets, insulating plates for switchboards, seals at chemical plants and industrial-use rope.
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry has ordered 89 companies, including construction materials makers, to report on workers whose health may have been damaged by the mineral.
On Friday, METI said 374 employees and contract workers from 27 manufacturers of asbestos products in Japan had died from asbestos-linked illnesses. The actual number of fatalities, as listed by firms, is higher, however.
At the Lower House panel on asbestos-related health problems Wednesday, vice health minister Hiroyoshi Nishi said 186 people received workers' compensation for asbestos-linked accidents in fiscal 2004 alone, or 1 1/2 times the previous year's figure.
Cumulatively, he said, 849 people have received workers' compensation for such accidents -- 354 for lung cancer and 495 for mesothelioma.
According to the health ministry, the 186 who were compensated in fiscal 2004 included 59 lung cancer victims and 127 mesothelioma victims.
In fiscal 2003, 121 received compensation for asbestos-related diseases.
Vice Environment Minister Hiroshi Takano, who also attended the committee meeting, said, "We are currently collecting information on asbestos-related problems via the prefectural governments."
Fourteen employees from five domestic steelmakers have died from illnesses seemingly linked to asbestos over the past decade, according to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation.
The 14 consist of five each from JFE Steel Corp. and Japan Steel Works Ltd., two from Nippon Steel Corp., and one each from Kobe Steel Ltd. and Yodogawa Steel Works Ltd., the federation said in a report released Tuesday.
Steelmakers use asbestos for insulating material and in seal adhesives. The employees who died used to install these materials, it said.
The federation's members use asbestos in such products at 567 facilities throughout Japan, and the federation plans to replace 74 percent of the products with alternatives over three years.