A Patients Resource For Medical And Legal Information

book_image.jpgMy reading habits might be a little strange to some people, my wife thinks that I am obsessed with the written word. That is not so. I read to learn, and there is much to learn in this world. For months I have been seeing adverts on the TV talking about Mesothelioma. I knew very little about this luckily rare cancer other than it is related to being in close proximity to Asbestos, a substance commonly used in the first half of the twentieth century in a variety of applications.

My quest for knowledge began with the Internet, and I fell off my chair in shock when a Google Search on the term Mesothelioma revealed over 9 million websites about the subject. It did not take long to figure out that most sites actually had little educational value. Once I had discounted those I discovered that the remaining ones, while crammed with information tended to be written in purely medical speak, a language unintelligible to the average person.

Further digging though did reveal one site that seemed to be both educational and written with the ‘man in the street’ in mind, Asbestos.net. I also noticed that they have a book in print on the subject. I may spend many hours everyday on the computer, but when it comes to reading I much prefer good old paper. You can sit outside in the sunshine, rather than suffering eye strain from the computer monitor.

I contacted Asbestos.net, and they were very courteous and friendly, when I explained that I was a book reviewer they kindly sent me a complimentary copy of their informative book.

Actually it is two books, the second being a wonderfully comprehensive glossary of terms, medical and legal.

At just under 400 pages the main information book is to say the least comprehensive. The authors have broken the subject down into five distinct sections.

Section one deals with the history of Asbestos. It is a naturally occurring set of minerals, what did surprise me was that the term Asbestos does not relate to a single substance but several very distinctive variations. Asbestos hit the ground running in the 19th and 20th century, it was seen as a miracle product, fire resistant, pliable, and with amazing insulating properties. The industrial revolution was fueled by its use. From insulating steam engine boilers, flame proofing factory roofs, to creating fire fighting clothing, it was the answer to many prayers.

Asbestos really hit the big time as a result of the second world war, particularly with the Navy, the materials fire resistant properties made it ideal for use on vessels.

By the 1950’s though, some questions about how safe this material was started to emerge. Several studies started to show a disturbing trend. People who worked with the substance had a higher incidence of breathing related problems, the most insidious being Mesothelioma, an asbestos cancer that is almost always fatal. Just like coal miners and black lung, Asbestos workers contracted Mesothelioma. One US town in particular has become a focal point of the problem. The small town of Libby, Montana has deposits of Asbestos and has become the poster child of the problem.

Some have said that this idyllic small town nestled in the picturesque mountain country of northwestern  Montana has become “Ground Zero” for Asbestos victims

The 1960’s saw a change in policy, Asbestos was phased out where possible. That is not to say that it is still not used, just that its use is more limited, but just as potentially damaging.

Section Two of the book looks at the more medical aspects of Asbestos related diseases. Mesothelioma being only one variant. Asbestos is a strange beast, it can be decades after the exposure that health problems occur. The medical world is still investigating the mechanics of the problem. The one thing that I did come away with from this part of the book was an awe at the painstaking amount of research that went into its creation. For a patient this would be an invaluable resource.

Section Three takes a look at the state of play as far as Asbestos use and regulation is concerned. While the US has strict regulations, asbestos is still a common additive in many products, including automobile brake pads. It is also a common item that can be found in buildings erected prior to the 1960’s, your home, your workplace, even your school or favorite store.

Section four is likely the most useful section for people you have an Asbestos related disease. It looks at the various mesothelioma treatment options, as well as options for treatment of other cancers and asbestos related conditions, and is a comprehensive source for medical information.

Section five takes a look at the legal world. People with Asbestos related health problems do have recourse, unfortunately the legal system moves at a snails pace so it is important to make your choices wisely. Picking a mesothelioma lawyer, for example, is something that you need to do with care. They are not all created equal. Should you join a Class Action suit, or go it alone? Different states have different standards, and very different regulations. One thing that I came away with from reading this section is that the old saying of ‘Measure twice, cut once’ is oh so true!

To the best of my knowledge I do not have an Asbestos related disease, but I am glad that I read this informative book, it certainly has expanded my understanding on the subject.

I would also like to mention that everyone at Asbestos.net that I talked to were most helpful, and I am just a reviewer! If you, or a loved one have been diagnosed with an Asbestos related health issue I would suggest that you point your browser at Asbestos.net.

Simon Barrett

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