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Leading Asbestos-Cancer Group Urges Congress to Partner with Them and Support Funding Provisions in Asbestos Ban Legislation

- The following statement was issued by The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) to coincide with hearings held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the "Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act"(HR 3339), today, Thursday, February 28, 2008. The Meso Foundation is urging the House of Representatives to move expeditiously and step-up to the plate in allocating research funds for mesothelioma and

partner with the Meso Foundation in developing effective medical

treatments. -

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) is urging Members of Congress to pass Representative Betty L. McCollum's (D-Minnesota) "Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act" (HR 3339) and work with the Senate to get a bill to the President's desk for his signature during this Congressional session.

Today at 12:30 PM EST the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on HR 3339. This is the companion legislation to Senator Patricia Lynn Murray's (D-Minnesota) legislation in the U.S. Senate. The Act is dedicated to late Congressman Bruce Vento, who succumbed to mesothelioma in 2000. (Due to the length of the URL link, please copy and paste into a browser window for the audio webcast: live/energycommerce/11991/100_energycommerce-2322_060901.asx )

Last October, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Senator Murray's Ban Asbestos in America Act, which prohibits asbestos where present at more than 1% by weight, calls for a public education campaign about the dangers of asbestos exposure, and directs critically-needed federal research to begin to develop treatments for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

For decades, asbestos was used heavily in Navy ships and shipyards; in workplaces; in common building materials including drywalls, flooring, roofing materials, and cement pipes; in automotive products like brake pads; and even in common consumer products like hair dryers. As a result, the carcinogen has permeated our homes, offices and schools. The EPA estimates that one asbestos product alone -- a highly toxic "vermiculite" insulation -- is present today in 35 million U.S. homes.

Tens of millions of Americans have already been exposed to asbestos, whether they knew it or not. Ten thousand Americans are now dying each year from past exposures that are too late to prevent.

Deadly exposures will continue long into the future, because of all the asbestos already in our environment and the impossibility of remediating it. The tragedy of 9/11 demonstrates the continued, long-term threat. Estimates of the amount of asbestos released around Manhattan range as high as 1,000 tons. The impact pulverized the asbestos material into microscopic, easily respirable fibers to which the firefighters, rescue workers and other heroes were exposed. In the ensuing months, workers, residents and school children in the area continued to be exposed.

For all those who are now sick, who have already been exposed and are at risk, or who will inevitably be exposed in the future, the only hope is research now to develop effective medical treatments. But research on the asbestos-cancer, mesothelioma, lags far behind other cancers. As a result of the limited treatment options, most mesothelioma patients die within one year of diagnosis.

The Meso Foundation, therefore, is dedicated to promoting the research critically-needed to develop treatments for mesothelioma. As the nation's only independent, scientifically-based source of private mesothelioma research funding, The Meso Foundation has awarded over $5 million in research grants to stellar projects around the world.

Additionally, through the Meso Foundation's advocacy, research funding for asbestos-related diseases has been included in the "Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act," which is currently in the hands of Congress. A strong effort on the federal level is needed now to develop treatments for asbestos-cancer. We have accomplished a lot with limited, private funding. It is time for the federal government to partner with us in the search for a cure before more lives are lost.

SOURCE The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
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