Silicosis and Lung Cancer News
From Rainforests to Kitty Litter
Breathing Silica, Washing Vegetables and Saving Habitat
What are the health effects of clumping cat litter on humans? Are there any negative side effects from breathing the actual litter?
--Andy and Taeja Klukas, Maple Grove, MN
Clay-based cat litters contain crystalline silica, the main component in sand, rock and mineral ores. A possible health threat from clay-based litters is posed by silica dust, which can be kicked up and breathed in by both cats and humans. Prolonged exposure to silica dust causes silicosis, a non-cancerous but sometimes fatal lung disease. Crystalline silica dust is also a suspected carcinogen, associated with bronchitis and tuberculosis. Although exposure to this dust is of great concern to those working in mines or on construction sites, the effects on cat owners exposed while cleaning their cat's litter box are virtually unknown.
However, respiration problems are not the only thing to consider when purchasing litter for your cat. All cats clean their fur and paws, which can be coated with clay litter from using the litter box. Clumping litters in particular can be harmful to your pet because, once ingested, the litter expands and absorbs moisture in the intestines, causing blockages and dehydration, and preventing the absorption of nutrients. For this reason, the ASPCA recommends not using clumping litter for kittens.
Aware of the possible risks of silica dust and other side effects from clay litters, many cat owners are opting for healthier, more environmentally-sound alternatives. Dust-free litters like Feline Pine or Swheat Scoop are biodegradable, less harmful if ingested by pets, and produce no dangerous respirable dusts. They both contain no chemical additives, fragrances or dyes, are completely flushable, and can even be used as compost or mulch.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
Tel. (404) 639-3311
This article is from and continued at Emagazine.com
Some asbestos, silica suits thought fraudulent
Companies find plaintiffs trying to receive multiple settlements by claiming injury from both agents
From staff and wire reports
Feb. 03, 2005 - Companies battling lawsuits brought by people claiming injuries caused by exposure to asbestos or silica have long contended that they are the victims of fraud.
Now, the companies finally have evidence that their concerns may be real. Thousands of people who have said they were injured by one potentially lethal material are apparently double-dipping -- now asserting separately that they were injured by the other.
More than half the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit in Texas seeking compensation for exposure to silica -- used in making glass, paint, ceramics and other materials -- previously filed claims against a trust set up to compensate victims of asbestos, a cancer-causing flame retardant.
Jared S. Garelick, a lawyer at the Claims Resolution Management Corp., a trust that processes asbestos-related claims, says the discovery of the other suits came after defense lawyers in the Texas case provided a list of plaintiffs to the trust. It ran the names of 8,629 plaintiffs through its database and found that 5,174 had already filed asbestos claims, probably recovering money.
``That's huge,'' said Nathan A. Schachtman, a defense lawyer at the firm of McCarter & English in Philadelphia who has defended companies in both asbestos and silica cases. ``It's a big problem, not just for the courts,'' he said, ``because it's difficult to get the information'' about where plaintiffs have filed claims previously.
Northeast Ohio companies are among those involved in asbestos claims.
Barberton-based Babcock & Wilcox filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2000 to protect itself from asbestos claims. The case is still in the court system.
``Our plan of reorganization has been approved,'' said spokeswoman Sharyn McCaulley. ``It's just taken a while.''
Babcock & Wilcox is hoping that national legislation will be passed this year resolving asbestos claims, she said.
The company, which employs more than 8,000 people worldwide, including about 1,000 in Barberton, makes boilers and related equipment, nuclear steam generators, environmental equipment and more for utilities and other industries.
RPM International Inc. in Medina, which makes specialty coatings, has also faced thousands of asbestos liability claims in recent years.
In January, RPM announced it took a $47 million pretax charge for its second quarter ending Nov. 30 to increase the company's reserves for known asbestos claims. Company President and CEO Frank C. Sullivan also took part in a January forum on asbestos litigation reform that was sponsored by President Bush.
The evidence of seemingly duplicate injury claims was to emerge Wednesday in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on proposed legislation on asbestos liability. The evidence will almost certainly be used by companies to ask for greater protection from silica-related lawsuits, while labor advocates will argue that blocking such suits may harm people filing legitimate cases. The evidence could also complicate efforts to enact a law that would remove asbestos claims from the courts.
According to prepared testimony by Lester Brickman, a law professor at the Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University: ``As with asbestos, the tragedy of silica exposure is being transformed into an enormous moneymaking machine in which baseless claims predominate.''
Labor advocates are evidently worried that Congress will not treat the asbestos and silica matters as separate issues.
Dr. Laura Welch, medical director at the AFL-CIO's Center to Protect Workers' Rights in Silver Spring, Md., who will also testify on Wednesday, said that legislation dealing with asbestos should not be expanded to limit the right to sue as a result of exposure to other, unrelated substances.
``We don't want to derail what could be an important compensation bill for asbestos disease,'' she said. ``If there are bad claims for silicosis, they should deal with that head on.''
Pittsfield couple files silicosis suit in Madison County
August 24, 2005
By Ann Knef
A former chemical plant worker and his wife filed a 17-count lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court claiming long-term exposure to titanium dust and silica products has caused him to suffer a disabling lung disease.
Represented by Robert D. Rowland of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller & Antognoli in Edwardsville, James and Lori Bergman of Pittsfield name eight defendants in a $850,000 silicosis lawsuit filed Aug. 22.
United Gilsonite Laboratories (UGL), U.S. Silica, Miller Trucking, Dupont and Dupont Titanium Technologies, Kerr-McGee Corp., Kerr McGee Chemical and Krnonos Worldwide "knew or should have known" that the products they put in the the stream of commerce were dangerous and defective, the Bergmans claim.
Bergman was a maintenance department manager at UGL in Jacksonville for 16 years, from 1986 to 2002.
"UGL knew prior to the time plaintiff sustained permanent injury that the titanium dioxide, silica products and other chemicals in the Jacksonville, Ill. plant could cause permanent lung injury but failed to properly warn employees of the dangers of lung injury," according to the suit.
"As a result of his exposure...plaintiff has developed silicosis/pneumoconiosis and is permanently disabled as a result," the suit states.
Lori Berman seeks damages for loss of consortium.
"Lori Bergman has suffered the loss of income, support and services of plaintiff James Bergman in the past and will continue to suffer loss in the future," the suit states.
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