RET Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer

This is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs. It is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common type, accounting for about 85% of all cases, while SCLC is less common but tends to be more aggressive. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, radon gas, asbestos, and certain environmental and occupational hazards. The best way to prevent lung cancer is to avoid smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke. It’s also important to minimize exposure to other risk factors like radon and asbestos. As with any cancer, the outlook for lung cancer varies depending on the stage at which it’s diagnosed. Early-stage lung cancer has a better prognosis than late-stage cancer.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Common symptoms of lung cancer can include a persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and recurrent respiratory infections. Lung cancer is typically diagnosed through imaging tests like X-rays and CT scans, as well as through biopsy, where a tissue sample is taken for examination.


Treatment options for lung cancer depend on the type, stage, and overall health of the patient. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

Genetic Factors and Mutations

Lung cancer can be influenced by genetic factors, including mutations or errors in transcription, although it is often more strongly associated with external risk factors such as smoking and environmental exposures.

Most cases of lung cancer are caused by acquired genetic mutations in the DNA of lung cells. These mutations can be caused by exposure to carcinogens, such as those found in tobacco smoke, radon gas, or workplace chemicals.

Mutations in the EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) gene are more commonly found in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Certain drugs, called EGFR inhibitors, are used as targeted therapies to treat NSCLC with specific EGFR mutations.

ALK Rearrangements: Some lung cancers have rearrangements in the ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) gene. Targeted therapies known as ALK inhibitors are used to treat these specific types of lung cancer.

In a small percentage of cases, lung cancer may be associated with inherited genetic mutations. For example, individuals with a family history of lung cancer or certain rare genetic syndromes, like Li-Fraumeni syndrome or hereditary retinoblastoma, may have an increased risk of developing lung cancer.

It’s important to note that while genetic factors play a role in the development of lung cancer, environmental factors, particularly smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, remain the leading causes of this disease. Smoking cessation and reducing exposure to environmental carcinogens are essential steps in preventing lung cancer. Additionally, early detection through regular screenings, such as low-dose CT scans for high-risk individuals, can help identify lung cancer at earlier, more treatable stages.

RET Lung Cancer

There are two main types of RET genetic alterations, or errors in the gene.  RET alterations, which can lead to the development of various cancers, including thyroid cancer and lung cancer, are categorized into two main types: RET point mutations and RET rearrangements (gene fusions).

RET point mutations can be thought of as places where the DNA is misspelled. RET rearrangement or gene fusions are when a piece of DNA joins with another gene and creates a fusion. This fusion leads to uncontrolled cell growth and cancer. This is the most common RET gene error in lung cancer.

In RET Rearrangements (Gene Fusions) a portion of the RET gene becomes fused or joined with another gene, leading to the creation of a fusion gene. This fusion gene, in turn, produces a protein that can drive uncontrolled cell growth and the development of cancer. In lung cancer, RET gene fusions are relatively common, and they are considered oncogenic drivers, meaning they play a significant role in the initiation and progression of the cancer.

Identifying the specific type of RET alteration in a patient’s cancer is crucial for determining the most appropriate treatment strategy. In cases of RET gene alterations in lung cancer, targeted therapies such as RET inhibitors have shown promise in effectively managing the disease in some patients.


Mesothelioma and lung cancer are both types of cancer that affect the respiratory system, but they are distinct diseases with different origins and characteristics.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that originates in the mesothelial cells, which are the protective lining around organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdomen. The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs (pleura). It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral once used in various industries. There are also peritoneal mesothelioma (affecting the lining of the abdomen), pericardial mesothelioma (affecting the lining of the heart), and rare cases of testicular mesothelioma.
Lung cancer, on the other hand, originates in the lung tissue itself, typically in the cells lining the air passages or in the lung parenchyma (the functional part of the lung). The primary risk factor for lung cancer is tobacco smoking, although other factors such as environmental exposures can also contribute. Lung cancer is typically classified into two main types: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the more common type.

Risk Factors

Exposure to asbestos is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma. It can take several decades after exposure for the disease to develop, whereas smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, and it is responsible for the majority of cases. Other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, radon gas, air pollution, and occupational exposures to carcinogens.


Treatment approaches for mesothelioma and lung cancer differ due to their distinct origins and characteristics. Mesothelioma is typically treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, and in some cases, targeted therapies. Lung cancer treatment varies depending on the type and stage, and it can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy.

In summary, mesothelioma and lung cancer are both cancers that affect the respiratory system, but they have different origins, risk factors, and treatment approaches. Mesothelioma is primarily associated with asbestos exposure, while lung cancer is strongly linked to smoking. RET lung cancer affects probably 1 – 2% of cases. Early diagnosis and personalized treatment plans are essential for both diseases to improve outcomes for affected individuals.


Asbestos – What It Is is a natural mineral that can be harmful if you’re exposed to it. It’s a fibrous mineral that comes in different forms and is often found in various construction materials. The most common form is chrysotile, which has white or blue fibers. It’s also used in paint, plumbing, and sealants.

When you’re exposed to asbestos, it enters your air passages. While most of the fibers are removed by the body’s natural defenses, some may lodge deep in the lungs and remain there for years. In some cases, these fibers will never be removed from your body, so it’s important to prevent asbestos from entering your lungs.

Because of its unique chemical and physical properties, asbestos is very difficult to break down. It has a high heat and electricity resistance, and its fibers are very flexible. Asbestos has been used in many industries, including construction, oil and gas, and building materials. Homeowners and DIYers have also been exposed to asbestos through various construction materials and household products. Even children’s toys have been found containing asbestos.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to lung diseases like asbestosis and lung cancer. The asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs, irritating tissue and making breathing difficult. Asbestosis symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can take years to appear. Smokers are especially vulnerable to the disease, because cigarette smoke irritates lung passages and makes it difficult to expel the fibers.

Asbestos is common in older buildings that were constructed before the year 2000. This mineral was used in a variety of construction materials, including cement pipe, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, and more. It was also used in heating systems, boilers, and brake linings. Asbestos-containing products have been banned in the European Union since 2005.

Some healthcare providers offer Medicare coverage for patients suffering from asbestos-related illnesses. Others may qualify for compensation from workers’ compensation programs. The Federal Employees Compensation Program, Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Program, and State Workers Compensation Programs cover medical bills for those who were exposed to asbestos during their employment. In addition, some people may be eligible for care at VA medical centers.

Asbestos samples should be tested for presence before any repair work. Asbestos repair materials are specially made to seal off damaged areas and prevent asbestos fibers from spreading. These products can be purchased at specialty stores. Removal of asbestos is the most costly method and should be the last option in most cases. This material can be difficult to remove, so be sure to use protective equipment while performing the removal.

The risks associated with asbestos are not well-known by the general public but construction workers NEED to be aware of them. Asbestos is found in many consumer products, including building materials. However, it can be dangerous if inhaled, even if you’re exposed to a small amount. However, if you’ve been exposed to asbestos for a long time, the risk is much higher.

Avoiding Asbestos in Lath and Plaster to asbestos can result in the development of various types of cancer, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and pleural effusion. Lung cancer is a deadly form of cancer caused by the abnormal growth of lung tissue. Asbestosis is a condition caused by the prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers. Asbestosis causes breathing difficulties, chest pain, and coughing. Pleural effusions are fluid-filled sacs in the lungs and abdominal walls. Asbestos can cause any of these diseases, and this is why it is vital to avoid asbestos exposure.

While asbestos plaster is not a health risk when in good condition, crumbling laths or plaster or water damage can release asbestos fibers. Leaving undamaged plaster alone is best. It can be encapsulated if necessary and possible. If it needs to be removed or modified, it is best to contact an asbestos inspector who has government approval and does not work for a company that has a vested interest in removing asbestos. The inspector should be well-trained and free of any conflict of interest. This will ensure the safety of the property and of the family living in it.

Lath and plaster asbestos was once used in many buildings to increase fire-resistance and insulate the walls. Unfortunately, this practice placed many people at risk of asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma. Asbestos particles can become airborne and be inhaled by people who worked with the material. People who mixed the powder with plaster are at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma. Old plaster, that is crumbling can also release fibers.

Asbestos was commonly used in plaster building materials between 1940 and 1990. Even though it is now banned, older buildings may still contain asbestos plaster. Even today, some plaster can contain 1% of asbestos, which makes it an asbestos-containing material. It was commonly used in fireproof walls, such as those found in elevator shafts. Asbestos cement is not toxic unless it contains a significant amount of asbestos.

Before beginning renovations, be sure to wear protective gear. This includes safety goggles, ear plugs, and a hard hat. Asbestos-containing materials can settle into ventilation systems, which can harm people if they accidentally turn the ventilation back on. Also, make sure to turn off power and water before working on the walls or ceilings. By doing so, you’ll greatly reduce the chances of injury. So, before you begin the renovation process, take all precautions to avoid exposure to asbestos or lead.

Dangers of Exposure to Asbestos you’ve worked around asbestos, you may be wondering what the dangers are. Exposure to asbestos can cause a wide variety of diseases, including mesothelioma. This deadly cancer affects the lining of your chest, abdomen, and lungs. Early warning signs include fluid buildup around the lungs, cough, and fatigue. As with all cancers, the most effective treatment for asbestos-related disease is prevention.

Old buildings often contain asbestos, including decorative ceilings. Some patching compounds and textured paint also contain asbestos, which is a common ingredient in building materials. Although asbestos use in new construction was banned in 1977, homes and buildings constructed before that date may still contain asbestos. Also, vinyl floor tiles and sheet flooring contain asbestos.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen, so it’s important to take precautions to prevent exposure to asbestos. While there are no symptoms of asbestos exposure in most people, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from this dangerous substance. Asbestos fibers are easily released when plaster breaks, cracks form in walls, and walls become damp and damaged. It’s important to address asbestos exposure immediately in these cases, but don’t worry if you’ve never been exposed to it. You never know when you might have an asbestos-related incident, so it’s crucial to stay vigilant about regular health checkups and notify your health care provider of any exposure.

When you’re exposed to asbestos, your body will absorb fibers, usually, by breathing them in, making the lungs the most likely site of any problem and causing you to develop symptoms. Asbestos is toxic in small doses, and the longer you’re exposed to it, the worse your health will become. It’s important to seek proper medical care if you suspect that you’ve been exposed to asbestos in your home. It’s especially important to take precautions to protect yourself and your family.

If you’re not sure what your symptoms mean, ask your family doctor. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause cancer. Even if a person is exposed to low-level amounts of asbestos in the air, they can still cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. If you’ve smoked in your lifetime, you’re even more likely to be affected by asbestos because cigarette smoke irritates your respiratory tract. When contaminated food or liquids contain asbestos, it’s likely that you’re swallowing the fibers in the product.

If you’re renovating or remodeling an older building, asbestos exposure is a serious concern. Asbestos fibres can become airborne when disturbed. Contractors must take appropriate precautions to minimize the risk of asbestos contamination. You should hire licensed asbestos abatement contractors who are licensed to work in your area. If you are unsure of their background and experience, check with your local air pollution control board, worker safety agency, and the Better Business Bureau.

Asbestos Cases and You is a naturally occurring silicate mineral found in a variety of materials including brake linings, asbestos roofing tiles, and fireproofing. There are several types of asbestos, including chrysotile, amphibole, and crocidolite. All six of these types are formed from the same naturally occurring mineral. There are six forms, which comprise both short and long fibers, each fiber consisting of multiple microscopic particles, which are released into the air by abrasion, compression, and other physical processes.

When asbestos is exposed to the air, airborne particles are inhaled, which then become deposited in various tissues throughout the body. Over time, these particles accumulate in various parts of the body, where they can cause health problems for individuals. Asbestos particles can become lodged in the lung tissue and cause serious health risks. Once inside the lungs, the asbestos fibers break down the lining of the lungs, exposing the lungs to asbestos dust and causing mesothelioma. Asbestos dust is commonly breathed in through inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers, which can become lodged in the lining of the lungs, and is often times trapped in the lungs without the individual ever knowing it.

Individuals who work with asbestos materials on a regular basis, such as a person who constantly works with old asbestos materials or an individual who has worked in a landfill with asbestos, have a greater chance of developing the illness.

There are many different health effects associated with asbestos. The main concern with individuals exposed to the material is that the cancerous cells in their lung tissue can begin to form. Mesothelioma, which is the most common form of asbestos lung disease, begins to form slowly over time. However, this disease has been known to begin to manifest quickly, especially in individuals who were exposed to the material in significant amounts for extended periods of time. This is due to the fact that asbestos fibers stay in the lungs for long periods of time and when inhaled or ingested into the body. Over time, the cancerous cells begin to grow and move to other parts of the body.

Another one of the major health effects associated with asbestos is asbestosis. Asbestosis is the buildup of scar tissue in the lungs, and it is often times mistaken for lung cancer. It is actually the covering of the lungs, which have become thickened and damaged from the asbestos exposure. Some of the most common symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, and wheezing. Other less common symptoms of asbestosis include memory loss, and even damage to the eyesight.

Exposure to asbestos is not only dangerous to the individual who has developed the condition, but also to everyone around them, including family members. There are cases known, for instance, of a wife developing asbestosis after washing her husband’s work overalls over a period of time.

Asbestos is known to cause a wide range of negative health risks, including asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural plaques in the lungs, and mesothelioma. Because of the wide range of health risks that are associated with asbestos exposure, it is extremely important to make sure that anyone who works with this material or who is remodelling a home with it is aware of the hazards. In many parts of the world only registered contractors can work with asbestos.

There are many things that an individual can do to ensure that they are safe from the dangers of this material. Following these safety tips is highly recommended.  The U.S. Consumer Protection Division has made provisions for allowing individuals to file lawsuits related to the dangers of asbestos exposure. For more information regarding this matter, consumers should visit their website. They will be able to obtain additional information about asbestos causes, as well as various asbestos lawsuits that have been filed in recent years. In addition, they will be able to find services and assistance to assist with filing a lawsuit, and will be able to advise individuals on the best way to protect themselves from this deadly material.

How to Choose the Right Asbestos Mask For a Job

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We are all familiar with the term “When working on old buildings, get an asbestos mask and earmuffs.” We have undoubtedly heard this said many times over, but how much do we really know about them? Do we know when they should be used? If you are working in an old building, then you MUST do a proper risk assessment of the possibility of asbestos being present because only then can you choose which type of protective equipment is necessary for health and to prevent exposure to asbestos fibers.

Breathing in asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer caused by asbestos. But it’s not only important to protect the lungs – asbestos dust can also affect the eyes. In some countries, only licensed workers can work with asbestos and home owners or unlicensed workers should not attempt to remove or do work on anything that could contain asbestos.

Full face dust masks are the best bet when working with asbestos. The filters protect both the lungs and the eyes. These filters are of the type FFP3, which protects against particles and dust. Paper dust masks do not filter out asbestos dust and fibers and should not be used. Eye protection is needed in case of falling debris or particles released into the air from work, including on low level items, such as floor tiles.

An asbestos mask, or “dust mask”, is usually made from thick plastic or vinyl. There are many different kinds of respirators available, but for general protection, the most common ones are powered air purifying respirators. These are the ones that you will find being used by asbestos workers everywhere. A “fit” test should be carried out on any respirator bought, to ensure it fits correctly. Facial hair may make it difficult to obtain a good seal. Make sure you get training on how to fit any respirator. If you have never used one before, you may need to talk to your medical adviser about whether you can use a respirator as they make the lungs work harder. Physical work on top of this may mean some people cannot use respirators.

An asbestos mask can be of two types. Firstly, a “full faced” or full-faced respirator which provides protection from both airborne particles and vapors. The second type is called a “half faced” or “mouth-blown” respirator. It only provides protection from airborne particles and does not cover the eyes.

It is very important that people who work with asbestos materials must wear protective clothing and masks at all times when asbestos is present. This includes people who perform asbestos-related jobs like cutting, drilling, or building sheet rock. The correct masks and protective clothing need to be worn at these jobs, as the fibers from the damaged or friable asbestos can get into the skin and can lead to serious health problems as well as into the lungs and eyes. All of these dangers must be avoided, so one needs to choose the right asbestos mask for the job.

In addition, workers with asbestos need to wear a full disposable body covering, including with feet. This clothing is removed once work is over and disposed of at the work site, along with other asbestos containing material.


Image by/from WikiMedia Commons

Vermiculite, a hydrous phyllosilicate mineral, undergoes significant expansion when heated. Exfoliation occurs when the mineral is heated sufficiently, and commercial furnaces can routinely produce this effect. Vermiculite forms by the weathering or hydrothermal alteration of biotite or phlogopite.
Large commercial vermiculite mines currently exist in Russia, South Africa, China, and Brazil.

Vermiculite was first described in 1824 for an occurrence in Millbury, Massachusetts. Its name is from Latin vermiculare, to breed worms, for the manner in which it exfoliates when heated.

It typically occurs as an alteration product at the contact between felsic and mafic or ultramafic rocks such as pyroxenites and dunites. It also occurs in carbonatites and metamorphosed magnesium-rich limestone. Associated mineral phases include: corundum, apatite, serpentine, and talc. It occurs interlayered with chlorite, biotite and phlogopite.

Vermiculite is a 2:1 clay, meaning it has two tetrahedral sheets for every one octahedral sheet. It is a limited-expansion clay with a medium shrink-swell capacity. Vermiculite has a high cation-exchange capacity (CEC) at 100-150 meq/100 g. Vermiculite clays are weathered micas in which the potassium ions between the molecular sheets are replaced by magnesium and iron ions.

In 2014, South Africa, Brazil, the US, and China were the top producers of mined, concentrated and unexfoliated vermiculite, with about 90% world share. South Africa’s production is decreasing, while Brazil’s is significantly increasing.

While some end processors and exfoliators of vermiculite specialize, with proprietary products sold in a wide variety of industries, some have more varied end products, with less stringent technical requirements. Some vermiculite exfoliators blend with lower-cost perlite also. Vermiculite exfoliators have an international trade association called The Vermiculite Association to represent the industry’s interests and to exchange information.

Today spray-applied fireproofing materials use vermiculite, other industrial minerals, and expanded polystyrene, depending upon the exact commercial product. The ingredients for these products all have to meet stringent regulatory requirements, particularly in the US and Europe. In the past, vermiculite from the W. R. Grace mines in Montana, have been associated with asbestos. Therefore, old spray-applied fireproofing, pre-1991, may contain small quantities of asbestos. In August 2014, the NYSDoH qualified two, more exact, test methods, better designed to identify materials with this potential problem, and assist in safely dealing with any issues associated with its removal. Modern spray applied fireproofing today is made with vermiculite that does not contain asbestos and is carefully monitored at all stages of mining and production to ensure this is the case.

Although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that contained asbestos until the early 1990s. Vermiculite mines throughout the world are now regularly tested for it and are supposed to sell products that contain no asbestos. The former vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, did have tremolite asbestos as well as winchite and richterite (both fibrous amphiboles)—in fact, it was formed underground through essentially the same geologic processes as the contaminants.

Pure vermiculite does not contain asbestos and is non-toxic. Impure vermiculite may contain, apart from asbestos, also minor diopside or remnants of the precursor minerals biotite or phlogopite.

The largest and oldest vermiculite mine in the United States was started in the 1920s, at Libby, Montana, and the vermiculite was sold under the commercial name Zonolite. The Zonolite brand and the mine were acquired by the W. R. Grace and Company in 1963. Mining operations at the Libby site stopped in 1990 in response to asbestos contamination. While in operation, the Libby mine may have produced 80% of the world’s supply of vermiculite.

The United States government estimates that vermiculite was used in more than 35 million homes, but does not recommend its removal. Nevertheless, homes or structures containing vermiculite or vermiculite insulation dating from before the mid-1990s—and especially those known to contain the “Zonolite” brand—may contain asbestos, and therefore may be a health concern.

An article published in The Salt Lake Tribune on December 3, 2006, reported that vermiculite and Zonolite had been found to contain asbestos, which had led to cancers such as those found in asbestos-related cases. The article stated that there had been a cover-up by W. R. Grace and Company and others regarding the health risks associated with vermiculite and that several sites in the Salt Lake Valley had been remediated by the EPA when they were shown to be contaminated with asbestos. W. R. Grace and Company has vigorously denied these charges.

The vermiculite deposit at the mine in Libby, Montana, was (and is) heavily contaminated with asbestos. Numerous people were knowingly exposed to the harmful dust of vermiculite that contained asbestos. Unfortunately, the mine had been operating since the 1920s, and environmental and industrial controls were virtually non-existent until the mine was purchased by the W. R. Grace and Company in 1963. Yet, knowing the human health risks, the mining company still continued to operate there until 1990. Consequently, many of the former miners and residents of Libby have been affected and continue to suffer health problems. Over 400 people in the town have died from asbestos-related disease due to contamination from vermiculite mining from nearby Zonolite Mountain, where soil samples were found to be loaded with fibrous tremolite (known to be a very hazardous form of asbestos), and countless others there who insulated their homes with Zonolite have succumbed to asbestos-related diseases, most of whom never were employed in environments where asbestos was an issue.

After a 1999 Seattle Post-Intelligencer story claimed that asbestos-related disease was common in the town, the EPA, in response to political pressure, made cleanup of the site a priority and called Libby the worst case of community-wide exposure to a toxic substance in U.S. history. The EPA has spent $120 million in Superfund money on cleanup. In October 2006, W. R. Grace and Company tried to appeal the fines ($54.5 million) levied on them from the EPA, but the Supreme Court rejected the appeal. The United States government is also pursuing criminal charges against several former executives and managers of the mine for allegedly disregarding and covering up health risks to employees. They are also accused of obstructing the government’s cleanup efforts and wire fraud. To date, according to the indictment, approximately 1,200 residents of the Libby area have been identified as suffering from some kind of asbestos-related abnormality. Jury selection was to have been completed in February 2009. The case ended in acquittals on May 8, 2009. On June 17, 2009, the EPA issued a public health emergency in and near Libby, thereby allowing federal agencies to provide funding for health care, and for removal of contaminated insulation from affected homes.

Curated with thanks from Wikipedia.


Image by/from Peter Kappus

Wiwilibrucke (engl. Wiwili Bridge) is a bridge of the German city Freiburg im Breisgau which is also called Blaue Brucke (engl. Blue Bridge) because of its paint and it had formerly been called Stuhlingerbucke before the new Stuhlingerbucke was built for the tramway. The bridge connects the city’s district Stuhlinger to the old town as it links the church square of Herz-Jesu-Kirche to Konrad-Adenauer-Platz in spanning the railway tracks of Freiburg Hauptbahnhof. Today, Wiwilibrucke is a listed building and is used by up to 10,000 cyclists per day.

The bridge was built in 1885-86 in place of an inaccessible crossing of the same height by the Grand Duchy of Baden State Railway. It was designed by Max Meckel who had designed the Herz-Jesu church shortly before, located in the axis of the bridge. The construction was carried out by the Eisenwerk in Kaiserslautern, an industrial company that was active in iron and steel construction. The bridge was inaugurated as “Kaiser-Wilhelm-Brucke”, however, the name didn’t stick among the residents, who called it “Stuhlingerbrucke”. It crosses the station tracks and access roads on five -due to the railway tracks- uneven—. The cost of the Eisenwerk was of 151,412 German gold mark; the cost of the entire construction around 428,000 gold marks.

From 1909 to the end of 1961, the line 5 (Herdern (Freiburg) – Haslach (Freiburg)) led the Trams in Freiburg im Breisgau across the bridge. With the Railway Crossing Act, the bridge became the property of the city of Freiburg in 1978, after the track had already been removed in 1972 as part of a first refurbishment and a new concrete carriageway had been applied, to secure the usage for the next 15 years.

As part of the redesign of the station area and a related construction of the abutment on the east side in 1996, the bridge was then closed to motor traffic and was made accessible only for bicycles and pedestrians. Next to the abutment on the Stuhlinger side, the “mobile” bike-and-mobility station was built with a bicycle parking garage in 1999, called bicycle station since 2014. In 2013, the bridge was named after Freiburgs sister city Wiwili de Jinotega.

In March 2008, fundamental renovation work was started for which the bridge was successively raised by 1.50 m (4.9 ft) in five sections in order to enable work above the railway tracks. In addition to replacing many static steel parts and the road pavement, drainage channels to protect Wiwilibrucke from corrosion were installed at the edges of the roadway and in the edge area of the sidewalks. Shortly after work had started, a massive asbestos pollution was discovered which had to be removed.

The bridge piers were raised by about 50 cm to increase the safety profile for the railway. As a result, the inclination of the bridge’s entry and exit ramps was increased by half a percent. The work was originally scheduled to take nine months and to cost around 2.5 million euros. However, due to the doubling of steel consumption and additional asbestos problems, the work lasted until September 2009 and cost 6.3 million euros. A spiral staircase leading from the northern sidewalk to the bus station was not restored after renovation.

The Freiburg Marathon crosses the bridge again after the renovation. On warm days, the arches of Wiwilibrucke are partly used to sit and the bridge serves as a location for tango dances from time to time.

Since its restoration the bridge is only allowed to be gritted without the use of road salt to prevent corrosion.

The total length of the bridge from one abutment to the other was 161.8 m (530.8 ft) when it was first opened while the width of the road was 5.2 m (17.1 ft). The sidewalks were 1.7 m (5.5 ft) wide each. The access roads on either side had to be built with a slope of 4% because of the location of the connected streets. The maximum height of the individual arches varies between 2.79 m (9.15 ft) and 4.13 m (13.52 ft). The total mass of the ironwork was 540.4 metric tons (595.6 imperial tons) but it increased to about 1720 metric tons (~1900 imperial tons), including supporting structure and concrete panels.

There are two memorials located on the bridge. One is a coat with a bronzen Star of David that seemingly was forgotten in a great hurry. It reminds of the deportation of Jews in 1940 as part of the Wagner-Burckel campaign. The coat was created by Birgit Stauch, an artist from Baden-Baden. It was placed on the bridge by Johannes Ruhl, second in charge of the culture department of Freiburg in 2003.

Apart from this there are also plaques that remind of Bernd Koberstein, a communist and trade unionist from Freiburg as well as Albrecht “Tonio” Pflaum, a doctor from Freiburg. Both of them were murdered during a humanitarian aid action in Wiwili by the Nicaraguan Contras.

Curated with thanks from Wikipedia.

Wittenoom, Western Australia

Image by/from Five Years

Wittenoom is a declared contaminated site and former townsite 1,420 kilometres (687 mi) north-north-east of Perth in the Hamersley Range in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The area around Wittenoom was mainly pastoral until the 1930s when mining for blue asbestos began in the area. By 1939, major mining began in Yampire Gorge, which was subsequently closed in 1943 when mining began in Wittenoom Gorge. In 1947 a company town was built, and by the 1950s it was Pilbara’s largest town. During the 1950s and early 1960s Wittenoom was Australia’s only supplier of blue asbestos. The mine was shut down in 1966 due to unprofitability and growing health concerns from asbestos mining in the area.

Today, three residents still live in the town, which receives no government services. In December 2006, the Government of Western Australia announced that the town’s official status would be removed, and in June 2007, Jon Ford, the Minister for Regional Development, announced that the townsite had officially been degazetted. The town’s name was removed from official maps and road signs and the Shire of Ashburton is able to close roads that lead to contaminated areas.

The Wittenoom steering committee met in April 2013 to finalise closure of the town, limit access to the area and raise awareness of the risks. Details of how that would be achieved were to be determined but it would likely necessitate removing the town’s remaining residents, converting freehold land to crown land, demolishing houses and closing or rerouting roads. By 2015 six residents remained; in 2017 the number dropped to four and to three in 2018.

Wittenoom was named by Lang Hancock after Frank Wittenoom, his partner in the nearby Mulga Downs Station. The land around Wittenoom was originally settled by Wittenoom’s brother, politician Sir Edward Horne Wittenoom. By the late 1940s there were calls for a government townsite near the mine, and the Mines Department recommended it be named Wittenoom, advising that adoption of this name was strongly urged by the local people. The name was approved in 1948, but it was not until 2 May 1950 that the townsite was officially gazetted. In 1951 the name was changed to Wittenoom Gorge at the request of the mining company, and in 1974 it was changed back to Wittenoom. The mine closed in 1966, and the townsite was officially abolished by gazettal in March 2007.

In 1968 Wittenoom was one of only two Catholic parishes in the Pilbara.

In 1917 the Mines Department first recorded the presence of blue asbestos in the Hamersley Ranges. Langley Hancock discovered Wittenoom Gorge on the Mulga Downs property in the early 1930s. In 1937 Langley (Lang) Hancock showed samples of blue asbestos crocidolite that he had picked-up in the Gorge to Islwyn (Izzy) Walters and Walter (Len) Leonard who were at that time mining and treating white asbestos at Nunyerrie and at Lionel near Nullagine. When Hancock learned the fibre would fetch £70 per ton he immediately pegged the best claims in Wittenoom Gorge. Leo Snell, a Kangaroo shooter on Mulga Downs pegged a claim on Yampire Gorge, where there was a lot more blue asbestos. Walters and Leonard purchased Yampire Gorge from Snell and moved their treatment plant there and began mining and treating the fibre. When Leonard cabled London that there was two miles of asbestos in sight at Yampire Gorge, they cabled him back saying he should take a holiday. Leonard had to send a photograph before it was believed Yampire Gorge contained this much asbestos. Walters and Leonard cleared the way into Yampire gorge by blasting the biggest rocks and pulling them out the way with a camel team. Even after that it took them seven hours to drive their lorry the fifteen miles from the workings to their treatment plant. By 1940, twenty-two men were employed at the Yampire Gorge workings and about 375 tons were mined and transported to the coast (Point Samson) by mule team wagons. During the war communications with England became difficult and de Berrales acquired an interest in the mines. Finally in 1943 the Colonial Sugar Company through its subsidiary, Australian Blue Asbestos Ltd. took over both the Wittenoom and Yampire Mines. Lang Hancock who watched his station property transform to a town stated (1958), “Izzy Walters was the man who stuck it and produced the market that made Wittenoom of today possible. Walter’s partner Len Leonard, put it this way (1958), “But for his (Islwyn Walters) sheer grit and hard work there would be no such thing as Wittenoom. We have him to thank for that.”

Until the Second World War asbestos was mostly imported from South Africa and Canada. The Australian market for asbestos before the Second World War was worth $1 million a year, and there was export potential. Hancock had promising talks with the British, who were desperate to use asbestos as filters in gas masks, and his partners Islwyn (Izzy) Walters and Walter (Len) Leonard had negotiations with Johns Manville in the United States. When the Second World War came asbestos was in high demand for use in tanks, planes, battleships, helmets and gasmasks. In 1943 the mine was sold to CSR Limited subsidiary, Australian Blue Asbestos Pty Ltd (ABA), where Hancock remained as manager until 1948.

In 1946, the Yampire Gorge mine was closed and subsequently Wittenoom Gorge mine was opened in the same year. Production to 1956 is estimated at 590,000 tons of ore from which about 20,000 tons of asbestos were recovered. In 1947 the town of Wittenoom was built to service the nearby asbestos mine. It was built ten kilometres from the mine and mill as there was not a suitable area available to expand the original residential settlement. By 1951 the town had 150 houses and a population of over 500.

In 1948 CSR took over the asbestos project at Wittenoom as the parent company of ABA. From 1950 until the early 1960s Wittenoom was Australia’s only supplier of asbestos with 161,000 tonnes being mined from 1943 to 1966. In an internal report recommending the mine’s closure in 1966, one of CSR’s own executives admitted that “…no thorough investigation of the deposit at Wittenoom was made”. For most of the years CSR mined asbestos, the operation lost money. It struggled into profit for the five years from 1956, and then only by making its workforce work two and even three shifts a day. When the mine closed it had an accumulated debt of around $2.5 million.

In 1944, Mines Inspector Adams reported on the dust menace at Wittenoom and discussed the need to reduce dust levels, and the WA Assistant State Mining Engineer reported on the dangers of the dust being generated at Wittenoom. The first case of asbestosis at Wittenoom occurred in 1946, although it was not conclusively diagnosed until much later. In 1948, Dr Eric Saint, a Government Medical Officer, wrote to the head of the Health Department of Western Australia. He warned of the dust levels in the mine and mill, the lack of extractors and the dangers of asbestos and risk of asbestosis, and advised that the mine would produce the greatest crop of asbestosis the world has seen. He also advised the Wittenoom Mine Management that asbestos is dangerous and that men exposed would contract chest disease inside six months.

Dr Jim McNulty, who was working for the Health Department of WA, provided a first hand account of the work conditions he observed when he visited Wittenoom to do a clinical examination in 1959 (Australian Safety News, May 1995). He reported: “It was generally dirty and dusty, there were clumps of asbestos all over the floor and one’s clothing was rapidly soiled by contact with any surface….. every operation in the mine was associated with dust.” Dr McNulty repeatedly warned the company’s manager of the dangers to the miners and the people living in the town. Dr McNulty and the Health Department did not have the power to order CSR to close down the mine.

Between 1977 and 1992, eight studies involving air monitoring were carried out by the Health Department of WA and other authorities. There were a number of shortcomings with these studies, which meant the debate over risk to residents was not conclusively settled. Reports by the Environmental Protection Authority provide detail on the extent of the contamination. Inspection reports indicated that asbestos fibres were present in some quantity in almost every area of the town.

In 1978, the State Government adopted a policy of phasing down activity in the town of Wittenoom. This policy was seen as the most appropriate course of action to take in response to the widespread contamination of crocidolite in and around the town. The policy encouraged residents to relocate out of Wittenoom voluntarily, through the purchase of their homes, business and property and included a contribution to their relocation costs. The Shire of Ashburton and many local residents were opposed to closing the town; they lobbied hard to have the town cleaned up and developed as a tourist attraction.

In 1981, the Government re-affirmed its policy for phasing out Wittenoom and initiated planning for a new tourist resort. In 1984, the policy was modified by the Government to ensure that the existing State Government facilities and the Fortescue Hotel would be maintained until alternatives were available. Up until the end of 1991, over $1.4 million was spent under the phasing down policy, with the result that the population of Wittenoom fell from over 90 in May 1984 to about 45 in March 1992. Between 1986 and 1992, around 50 houses and other buildings were demolished by the Government. When the population decreased, the school, nursing post and police station were closed, with alternative services being provided primarily from Tom Price. In 1993 the airport was officially closed and the Government advised the Wittenoom residents that they would not be forced to leave, but new residents would not be encouraged to the town. A number of estimates on the cost and possible methods of rehabilitating Wittenoom and nearby mine sites were produced by organisations such as the Shire of Ashburton, the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Environmental Protection Authority.

In 1993, the Government commissioned CMPS&F Environmental to undertake a feasibility study for cleaning up the town site. The study found there was still extensive contamination, after approximately fifteen years during which attempts were made to clean up the town. The final report proposed a clean up involving removal of 100 mm (3.9 in) of contaminated top soil and replacement by gravel capping under strict guidelines. The cost was estimated at $2.43 million, and the report suggested the town could be developed further after clean up.
A systematic clean up of the town was not undertaken. Members of the Interdepartmental Committee on Wittenoom believed it was unlikely the town could be satisfactorily cleaned up and the benefits of attempting to clean up the town were not in proportion to the costs, or the risks involved. The legal implications of encouraging people to live in a town contaminated with crocidolite (even after clean up) were enormous. If residents or visitors contracted an asbestos related disease at some point in the future, it was very likely they might initiate legal action against the Government or organisations involved in such a project.

As of 2016 Wittennoom had only three permanent residents who defy the Government of Western Australia’s removal of services and stated intention to demolish the town. On 30 June 2006, the Government turned off the power grid to Wittenoom.

A report by consultants GHD Group and Parsons Brinckerhoff in November 2006 evaluated the continuing risks associated with asbestos contamination in the town and surrounding areas and classed the risk to visitors as medium and to residents as extreme.
In December 2006, Minister for the Pilbara and Regional Development Jon Ford announced that Wittenoom’s status as a town would be removed, and in June 2007, he announced that the townsite status was officially removed.

Both the Department of Health and an accredited contaminated sites auditor reviewed the report, with the latter finding that the detected presence of free asbestos fibres in surface soils from sampled locations presented an unacceptable public health risk. The auditor recommended that the former townsite and other impacted areas defined in the report be classified as “Contaminated – Remediation Required”. The Department of Environment and Conservation subsequently classified Wittenoom as a contaminated site under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003 on 28 January 2008.

However, opinion is not unanimous on the danger posed. Mark Nevill, a geologist and former Labor MLC for the Mining and Pastoral district, said in an interview in 2004 that the asbestos levels in the town were below the detection level of most equipment, and the real danger is located in the gorge itself which contains the mine tailings. Residents once operated a camping ground, guesthouse and gem shop for passing tourists. The roof of the gem shop is now caved in and the wood of the guest house is rotten, while the camping ground is nowhere to be found.

It was reported in 2018 that thousands of travellers still visited the ghost town every year as a form of extreme tourism.

The Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR) is another way that the Australian government is taking part in the fight against asbestos-related cancer. This national database keeps track of information about people who were diagnosed with mesothelioma after July 2010. It records all new cases in order to help the government develop policies on how to deal with asbestos that still remains in the country and reduce mesothelioma going forward.

The climate in Wittenoom is hot and humid in summer, which made working conditions in the poorly ventilated, dusty mine and mill uncomfortable. Many workers often stayed in the town for short periods only. Although around 200 people were employed at a time, approximately 7,000 workers drifted through the mine in the 23 years of its operation. Nearly half stayed for less than three months. CSR had problems attracting workers to the mine and mill, and in 1951 wrote to the Department of Immigration asking for help. CSR sent representatives to European countries, such as Italy, to recruit workers. Many European immigrants unable to find work in their own country signed a two-year contract with CSR to work at the Wittenoom mine and mill. They were unable to leave Wittenoom before the end of their contract unless they paid back CSR their fare, which for most was impossible.

Working conditions during the operation of the mines and mill at Wittenoom were extremely poor, especially in comparison to those of the 1990s. The biggest problem was the asbestos dust comprising small airborne asbestos fibres. Employees worked continuously amongst the asbestos dust in the poorly ventilated mine and mill, usually without effective personal protective breathing equipment. Safe working practices and systems of work were not evident.

The Australian Blue Asbestos Company employed 6,500 men and 500 women in the mining and milling of crocidolite at Wittenoom between 1943 and 1966. This cohort has been traced periodically for vital status and cause of death since 1975. By 1986 there were 85 deaths from pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. None occurred within ten years of first exposure to crocidolite. A survey of dustiness in the industry conducted in 1966 has provided a basis for estimates of cumulative crocidolite exposure of the members of the cohort. Exposure-response relationships have been examined. Mesothelioma incidence rates increase exponentially with time since first exposure and also increase with intensity of exposure to crocidolite. Mathematical modelling of the relationship between mesothelioma incidence and intensity of exposure, duration of exposure and time since first exposure results in an estimate of up to 700 cases of mesothelioma in this cohort by the year 2020.

The 1990 Midnight Oil song, “Blue Sky Mine” and its album Blue Sky Mining, was inspired by the town and its mining industry, as were He Fades Away and Blue Murder by Alistair Hulett. The town and its history are also featured in the novel Dirt Music by Tim Winton.

Digital poet Jason Nelson created the work Wittenoom: speculative shell and the cancerous breeze, an interactive exploration of the town’s death. It won the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2009.

Curated with thanks from Wikipedia


Image by/from Mewtu

Transite originated as a brand that Johns Manville, an American company, created in 1929 for a line of asbestos-cement products, including boards and pipes. In time it became a generic term for other companies’ similar asbestos-cement products, and later an even more generic term for a hard, fireproof composite material, fibre cement boards, typically used in wall construction. It can also be found in insulation, siding, roof gutters, and cement wallboard. The more prevalent transite found in wall construction and roofing tiles for example, will last anywhere from 50 years to over 100 years.

The use of asbestos, a proven carcinogen, to manufacture transite was phased out in the 1980s. It was replaced by crystalline silica, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified as being carcinogenic to humans (Class 1). Crystalline silica is also known to cause silicosis, a non-cancerous lung disease.

Originally, transite had between 12-50% of asbestos fiber added to a cement base to provide tensile strength (similar to the rebar in reinforced concrete), and other materials. It was frequently used for such purposes as furnace flues, roof shingles, siding, soffit and fascia panels, and wallboard for areas where fire retardancy is particularly important. It was also used in walk-in coolers made in large supermarkets in the 1960s, 1970s and even the 1980s. Other uses included roof drain piping, water piping, sanitary sewer drain piping, laboratory fume hood panels, ceiling tiles, landscape edging, and HVAC ducts. Because cutting, breaking, and machining asbestos-containing transite releases carcinogenic asbestos fibers into the air, its use has fallen out of favor. Despite asbestos-containing transite being phased out, it is still not banned in the United States; some 230,000 deaths have been attributed to it. Demolition of older buildings containing transite materials, particularly siding made from transite, requires special precautions and disposal techniques to protect workers and the public.

The transite that is produced today is made without asbestos. Transite HT and Transite 1000 are currently available fiber cement boards that contain crystalline silica, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified as being carcinogenic to humans (Class 1). Crystalline silica is also known to cause silicosis, a non-cancerous lung disease.

Curated with thanks from Wikipedia