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Asbestos Awareness Day - Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Calls for Commitment to Cure

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, recognized by Senate Resolution as "National Asbestos Awareness Day," the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation called on the nation to commit to curing the lethal, asbestos-related cancer. Mesothelioma or "meso" has been known since the 40's and its connection to asbestos exposure known since at least the 60's. It kills several thousand Americans each year, its incidence is growing, and dangerous exposures are still occurring.

Literally billions of dollars have been sucked from the economy by the transaction costs of asbestos litigation and lobbying over who is to blame and how much should the injured or dead should be "compensated." But -- as MARF points out -- lost in all of this has been a commitment to address the tragedy itself by funding the research needed to develop effective treatments.

According to MARF, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who introduced the resolution, stands as one of the rare exceptions to this apathy and hopelessness. In March of 2004, Senator Reid stood at the press conference MARF organized with Senator Patty Murray to support the proposed ban on asbestos and MARF's call for federal funding of meso research. Last October, he delivered the keynote speech at MARF's First International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma.

According to MARF Executive Director Chris Hahn, Senator Reid gave a moving speech, recognizing by name meso patients from Nevada, recounting the loss of one of his own childhood friends to meso, and stating his commitment to raising public awareness of meso and to funding the research needed to combat the disease. "We are extremely grateful to Senator Reid for his concern for meso patients and his commitment to stop the disease," Hahn said.

Calling now for the rest of the Senate to join with Senator Reid, MARF has launched a petition for federal funding of a National Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program. The idea, says Hahn, is a private-public partnership. Entirely through private giving, mostly from those tragically affected by the disease, MARF has already funded over $2,000,000 of essential, promising meso research since it began five years ago. Hahn says, "The progress made since then demonstrates that meso is indeed a disease which could be successfully treated. So now we are calling on the federal government to join as a partner in making effective treatment a reality for meso patients."

MARF began the petition in February, with the initial goal of 10,000 signatures. "But," Hahn says, "11,000 people have already signed, indicating their commitment to this cause; and yesterday we delivered this first round of petition signatures to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Even in this difficult budget year, we believe our country has the resources and the compassion to end this cruel tragedy."

MARF is the national nonprofit organization whose mission is to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-ending disease. For more information or to sign the petition for federal meso research funding, see or contact MARF Executive Director Chris Hahn, 805-560-8942,

Source: Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Asbestos Used at 1,147 JR West Stations

July 31--OSAKA -- Asbestos is used at 1,147 stations of West Japan Railway Co., some 94 percent of all of its 1,216 stations, the railway company said Saturday.

According to JR West, asbestos is used in the roofs and on the walls and steal beams of the station platforms, including 19 stations on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral fiber, is known to cause lung cancer and a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma, in addition to other health problems.

JR West added that blue asbestos, the use of which was banned in 1995 as it is more hazardous than other types of asbestos, is used at some of the stations.

Most of the railway stations were built in the 1960s and 1970s, when asbestos was commonly used as insulation.

JR West said it has taken measures to prevent the asbestos from dispersing but will remove asbestos when the stations are renovated in the future.

A Cabinet-level task force adopted a series of measures Friday in a meeting aimed at addressing public concern about asbestos-linked deaths and other health problems.

The issue entered the public spotlight again with dozens of companies that handled the material disclosing information since late June on the deaths of hundreds of workers linked to mesothelioma, caused only by asbestos inhalation, and other illnesses linked to the material.

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