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Protecting asbestos victims.

Ten thousand Americans a year--nearly 30 a day--die from asbestos-related diseases, and deaths caused by asbestos exposure are expected to reach up to 100,000 over the next decade, according to a recent study by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund.

ATLA members helped finance the independent research that produced the study, which called the issue a "public health crisis" that has not yet peaked. Analyzing government mortality records and epidemiological studies, the researchers found that asbestos-related diseases--including lung cancer; mesothelioma, asbestosis, and gastrointestinal cancer--kill 1 of every 125 American men who die at 50 or older.

Asbestos is still used in brake shoes and other products, exposing mechanics and other workers. Millions of people are exposed to asbestos that remains in workplaces and other buildings, including the 30 million U.S. homes with asbestos insulation.

The researchers also found that less than 2 percent of workers who were exposed to asbestos have sought help to pay their medical bills, while companies that claim to have gone bankrupt because of asbestos lawsuits tell their shareholders that the bottom line has not suffered.

The study, widely distributed to the media and members of Congress, recommends that the U.S. government ban asbestos immediately and establish a policy that will ensure care for future victims.

An asbestos bailout bill failed to reach a Senate vote in April; two weeks later, senators suspended yearlong talks about a compensation fund for victims; and at press time, both Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said they hoped the negotiators would keep working on a compromise.

For more information on the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, go to www.ewg.org. For the report, click on "EWG Report on Asbestos" under the heading "Policy Environment."
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Publication:Trial
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:295
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