Basic Asbestos FAQ

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Let us answer any questions you may have about asbestos

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What is asbestos?

The word “asbestos” is the term for six types of naturally occurring minerals: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite. Their physical properties can be useful for several reasons: the minerals are resistant to heat, electrical, and chemical damage, and provide excellent sound absorption and tensile strength. Unfortunately, asbestos is also toxic and a carcinogen.

Chrysotile (more commonly referred to as “white” asbestos) Amosite (more commonly referred to as “brown” asbestos and sometimes “gray” asbestos) Crocidolite (more commonly referred to as “blue” asbestos)
Tremolite Anthophyllite Actinolite

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What was asbestos used for?

The unique properties of asbestos make it hazardous. Asbestos fibers break into tiny particles that become deeply embedded in human tissue when breathed. When you see visible asbestos in the air, the number of the tiniest and most dangerous fibers is in the millions. Asbestos dust floats longer than other dusts. Asbestos has unique aerodynamic properties: the mineral frays into tiny microscopic rectangles, and they float in the air like little balsa airplanes.

Asbestos was most often used in building construction and shipbuilding. Concrete, bricks, pipes, cement, gaskets, insulation, flooring, roofing, drywall, and joint compound at one time all used asbestos as one of their components. Formerly, this potentially deadly material was also manufactured into automobile brake pads, shoes, and clutch discs.

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When did they stop using asbestos in building materials?

Surprisingly, in the United States, asbestos in building materials has never been completely banned. The quick summary is that the EPA issued bans on specific asbestos products beginning in 1973. EPA then tried to issue a total ban on asbestos in 1989 by issuing a final rule under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). But the ban was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991. The EPA issued a ban on asbestos products in 2019 under the new TSCA, but under that 2019 rule companies can petition the EPA for approval to import asbestos products. So it is not a total ban.

Asbestos use was banned by the European Union as of January 1st, 2005. Most developed countries also follow these guidelines, with the exception of the United States, Russia, and Canada. Unfortunately, asbestos is still widely used in third-world countries, with little or no protection for workers or consumers.

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Causes of Mesothelioma

What are the causes of mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is generally caused by long-term occupational exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a fibrous material, and when the fibers are inhaled, they can irritate the mesothelium — the tissue surrounding your heart, lungs, chest cavity and stomach cavity. In many cases, the long-term exposure leads to the creation of malignant cells in the mesothelium that begin to invade the rest of your body.

Where can I be exposed to asbestos?

Asbestos was widely used in construction and manufacturing until the 1970s when the government first began efforts to regulate the use and exposure to asbestos. Since then asbestos is no longer used in construction, but many building and houses still contain asbestos

Primary workplace exposure generally occurred at naval shipyards, power plants, railroad infrastructures and other industrial job sites, as well as in building construction. Anyone who worked at a jobsite with asbestos exposure is at risk of contracting mesothelioma. Asbestos-related exposures have also been diagnosed in families of industrial workers. Workers with asbestos fibers on their clothes inadvertently spread the fibers at home.

Worksites with confirmed asbestos exposure include the following:

Northeastern U.S. shipyards

  • Boston Naval Shipyard (Charlestown, MA)
  • Fore River Shipyard (Quincy, MA)
  • Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (Kittery, ME)
  • Bath Shipyard/Bath Iron Works (Bath, ME)
  • Hingham Shipyard (Hingham, MA)
  • Groton Yard (Groton, CT)
  • Newport Naval Shipyard (Newport, RI)

Boston Edison Co.

  • Boston Edison L Street Station (Boston, MA)
  • Boston Edison Edgar Station (Weymouth, MA)
  • Boston Edison Mystic Station (Everett, MA)
  • Boston Edison Plymouth Station (Plymouth, MA)

Big manufacturing sites in western Massachusetts

  • General Electric (Pittsfield, MA)
  • Monsanto (Springfield, MA)

Asbestos spray sites in Massachusetts

  • Charles River Park, Office Building (Boston, MA)
  • New Brockton High School (Brockton, MA)
  • Badger Building (Cambridge, MA)
  • Middlesex County Courthouse (Cambridge, MA)
  • Prudential Tower (Boston, MA)
  • Keystone Building (Boston, MA)
  • Polaroid Building (Waltham, MA)
  • Sachar International Center (Waltham, MA)
  • State Street Project (Quincy, MA)

Boilers: Riley Stoker sites

  • Bucksport Mill (Bucksport, ME)
  • Crane Paper (Dalton, MA)
  • Crocker Burbank Power Company (Fitchburg, MA)
  • Diamond International (Old Towne, ME)
  • Esso Refinery (Everett, MA)
  • Fitchburg Gas Electric Company (Fitchburg, MA)
  • Fitchburg Paper (Fitchburg, MA)
  • General Electric (Pittsfield, MA)
  • General Motors (Framingham, MA)
  • Georgia Pacific Paper Mill (Woodland, ME)
  • Great Northern Paper Company (East Millinocket, ME)
  • Holyoke Gas and Electric (Holyoke, MA)
  • Monsanto Chemical (Everett, MA)
  • Mount Tom Powerhouse aka Holyoke Water Power (Holyoke, MA)
  • New England Power Company – Brayton Point Station (Somerset, MA)
  • New England Power Company – Salem Harbor Station (Salem, MA)
  • Scott Paper (Bucksport, ME)
  • Scott Paper (Hinchley, ME)
  • Scott Paper (Winslow, ME)
  • Uniroyal, Inc./Fiske Tire Plant (Chicopee, MA)
  • University of Massachusetts (Amherst, MA)
  • University of Massachusetts – Tillson Farms (Amherst, MA)

Contact a trusted Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyer today

Thornton Law Firm represents clients nationwide. Call for a free consultation and services provided on a contingency-fee basis. If we don’t win your case, you don’t pay. Call us today at 1-888-632-0108  or contact us online.

Desmoplastic Mesothelioma

What is desmoplastic mesothelioma?

Desmoplastic mesothelioma is a cell subtype of mesothelioma. This aggressive variant of sarcomatoid mesothelioma often occurs in the pleura surrounding the lungs and sometimes in the abdomen (peritoneum). Around five to ten percent of mesothelioma patients have this type of cancer. Its cells are often described as bland or patternless in appearance and are usually found after the cancerous cells have invaded the chest wall.

How is desmoplastic mesothelioma diagnosed?

As with any form of mesothelioma, a doctor usually orders a biopsy for testing. The goal of the biopsy is to collect a large sample of tumor tissue for testing because the fibrous regions of sarcomatoid mesothelioma tumors can hide cell variations necessary for a desmoplastic diagnosis.

The presence of the dense cell fibers in all pleural mesothelioma tumors, in general, makes it difficult for doctors properly to diagnosis desmoplastic mesothelioma, so misdiagnosis is common. The disease is often misdiagnosed as fibrous pleurisy, pleural fibrosis, rheumatoid disease or spindle cell sarcoma.

Doctors look for the following criteria when a patient is suspected of having the disease:

  • At least 50 percent of the tumor consisting of dense fibrous tissue that frequently forms nodules
  • Areas of increased cellularity with sarcomatoid mesothelioma characteristics
  • Specific areas of cell death, known as necrosis, seen in 70 percent of cases
  • Spread of neoplastic spindle cells to the lung or chest walls
  • Metastasis to nearby fat tissue, skeletal muscle or lungs
  • Presence of the p53 tumor suppressor gene protein

Symptoms and treatment of desmoplastic mesothelioma

The symptoms vary, depending on the cell type. The most common symptom of desmoplastic mesothelioma is chest pains caused by fluid buildup in the lungs. Often, this is the only symptom experienced by patients.

Treatment for desmoplastic mesothelioma is typically palliative — striving to reduce symptoms, prolong survival and improve quality of life. Treatments can also include chemotherapy and radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancerous cells. After diagnosis, the average life expectancy of patients is only about one year.

Contact trusted asbestos lawyers for a free consultation

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History of Mesothelioma

Massachusetts Mesothelioma Cancer

Since the founding of our city, the people of Boston, Massachusetts, and the surrounding area have been in the process of building, structuring, and re-purposing their living and work environments. Many of these constructions, including factories, office buildings, public facilities, and shipyards, were built using materials that contained asbestos. during World War II. Unfortunately, its effects and consequences on the human body, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, were not known until much later.

Today, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), limits the amount and conditions under which workers are exposed to asbestos. The government’s limits on asbestos exposure starting in the 1970s came too late for many individuals and families; the damage has already been done. In addition, workers are often unknowingly exposed to asbestos today during demolition or repair of old asbestos-containing buildings and machines.

Types of Treatment

The most common types of treatment for an individual diagnosed with mesothelioma include the following:

  • Surgery. While this method alone traditionally has yielded poor results, it has been found increasingly effective when used in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Radiation. Often given to patients with localized disease, this treatment is commonly dispensed post-operatively along with other treatments. Occasionally, it is used palliatively to relieve the symptoms of mesothelioma.
  • Chemotherapy. Currently, this is the only treatment that has been shown to produce curative results in certain patients when used either alone, or in combination with other types of treatments.

Massachusetts Mesothelioma Law

Although OSHA provides certain protections for those still at risk of asbestos exposure in their work environments, this does not protect you from the cancer called mesothelioma. There is no safe level of exposure to any substance that causes cancer. OSHA regulations also do not always mean that employers follow OSHA regulations. You or a family member may collect compensation if it can be proven that your employer did not routinely monitor your exposure risk, or provide you with respiratory equipment, protective clothing, safety training, or health exams.

For claims against the manufacturers, sellers and distributors of the asbestos products you were exposed to,  the statute of limitations in Massachusetts is short: only three years from the date of diagnosis. By seeking the advice of a Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyer at Thornton Law Firm, we can help you:

  • Determine who is at fault for your diagnosis
  • File for compensation on your behalf
  • Pursue settlement or litigation of your case

Give us the opportunity to serve your best legal interests

Call 888-632-0108 or contact us here to speak for free with a Thornton Law Firm Massachusetts mesothelioma attorney. We look forward to answering any questions you may have after this visit to our website. We are here to help.

Malignant Mesothelioma

In the United States, malignant mesothelioma is a cancer almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure.The mesothelium, the protective linings covering most internal organs of the body, develops malignant cells, resulting in mesothelioma. The types of mesothelioma are often divided by the particular linings most frequently affected.

Types of mesothelioma

The four types of mesothelioma are:

  • Pericardial mesothelioma:  In Massachusetts, mesothelioma that attacks the lining surrounding the heart is the least prevalent.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma:   In Massachusetts, cancer affecting the peritoneum, or linings of the abdominal cavity, is second-most prevalent.
  • Pleural mesothelioma:   In Massachusetts, the most common type is pleural mesothelioma, is where the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall are attacked by the disease.
  • Testicular mesothelioma: The rarest type of mesothelioma occurs in the testicular vaginus lining of the testicule.

Methods of exposure

There are many ways one can become exposed to asbestos particles, but the most common way is by working around asbestos. Employees of shipyards, heating and construction companies and those working in asbestos mines and mills are the populations most greatly affected. Unfortunately, family members of these workers are also at high risk of contracting the disease, usually through their exposure to asbestos-tainted clothing or hair of the working family member.

We can help victims of mesothelioma in Massachusetts

Our history of representation for victims of mesothelioma in Boston, Massachusetts, and the surrounding area is unsurpassed. As Boston, Massachusetts’ leading mesothelioma law firm, rest assured that Thornton Law Firm will handle your mesothelioma claim with attention and respect.

Give us the opportunity to serve your best legal interests

Call 1-888-632-0108 or contact us here to speak for free with a Thornton Law Firm attorney specializing in mesothelioma and asbestos litigation. We look forward to answering any questions you may have after this visit to our website. We are here to help.

Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma

What is peritoneal mesothelioma?

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a type of cancer linked to asbestos exposure that develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity. This form of the disease is also known as abdominal mesothelioma. The pleural form of the illness affects the lining of the lungs and is the most common type of mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for 15 to 20 percent of diagnoses, making it the second-most common type.

What are the causes of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma?

Long-term asbestos exposure is the only known cause of peritoneal mesothelioma. Asbestos is known to reach the abdomen by one of two different methods: ingestion or inhalation. Malignant mesothelioma of the pleura metastasizes directly to the abdominal cavity if it is not detected and treated to slow progression of the disease.

What are the symptoms of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma?

Symptoms of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma are similar to those of pleural mesothelioma. These symptoms can take years to surface, making early diagnosis extremely difficult. In most cases, the time between asbestos exposure and detection of peritoneal mesothelioma can take anywhere from 10 to 60 years. It is difficult to diagnosis peritoneal mesothelioma because symptoms are often confused with those of other more common diseases.

Symptoms of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma include the following:

  • Abdominal pain, acute to severe
  • Swelling of the abdominal region due to fluid accumulation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Peritoneal effusion

Diagnosis and treatment options

The diagnostic methods of peritoneal mesothelioma are similar to diagnostic methods for other types of the disease. Your doctor may order X-rays or more advanced tests, such as an MRI or CT scan. If symptoms are present, the doctor usually orders a biopsy to make a more conclusive diagnosis. A sample of the tissue from the abdominal cavity is removed and analyzed to determine if there are tumors. The biopsy can also reveal if there are desmoplastic mesothelioma or sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells.

Once a diagnosis is reached, an oncologist helps determine the best treatment option for an individual patient. Because malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is normally diagnosed in its advanced stages, surgery to remove the tumors is seldom an option. If surgery is an option, a large portion of abdominal tissue is likely to be removed to treat the affected areas. More often in peritoneal mesothelioma cases, radiation is the only available treatment.

Talk to a qualified Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyer

Thornton Law Firm represents mesothelioma clients nationwide. We offer free consultations and provide services on a contingency-fee basis, so if we don’t win, you don’t pay. Call us today at 1-888-632-0108 or contact us online.

Mesothelioma Treatment

Mesothelioma cancer: Boston Massachusetts and the surrounding area

Due to the large contribution asbestos made to American construction and shipbuilding, asbestos cancer is more common in this area of the country than most others. The very materials used to manufacture important buildings and ships are the same ones that cause frequent diagnoses of mesothelioma and other related conditions.

Types of treatment for mesothelioma cancer

Currently, no cure exists for the aggressive and stubborn cancer that is mesothelioma. However, several encouraging treatments are available.

The most common type of treatment is surgery, often followed by radiation or chemotherapy. Surgery is used to remove as much of cancer as possible, while radiation and chemotherapy attack any remaining cancer cells. Surgery is also sometimes used as a palliative, rather than curative, option to relieve the victim of the harshest symptoms of the disease.

Radiation, on the other hand, is most often used for those whose health will not tolerate either surgery or chemotherapy. It has the fewest side effects of all the available treatments, and also can be used as a palliative measure.

Chemotherapy can be given either in pill or injection form but is well-known for its unpleasant side effects. Some patients decide not to undergo this type of treatment specifically because they cannot tolerate the side effects it causes.

For some patients with pleural effusions (fluid buildup), this can lead to chest pain, discomfort and breathing difficulties. Thoracentesis, removing the fluid through a hollow needle, can be the simplest way to give the mesothelioma patient relief. Thoracentesis is also used as a diagnostic tool. It may be referred to as pleurocentesis, pleural fluid aspiration or a pleural tap.

Boston, Massachusetts Mesothelioma Attorneys: We Can Help

For over 40 years Thornton Law Firm have been at the forefront of the legal battle against mesothelioma.

Cancer is a devastating diagnosis and is even worse when it is mesothelioma or another asbestos-related type. This is because it likely could have been prevented. Do not suffer in silence. Contact Thornton Law Firm as soon as possible after your diagnosis to review your rights with us. Nothing can ever take away the pain of diagnosis, but the least we can do is start pursuing the compensation you deserve.

Give us the opportunity to serve your best legal interests

Call 1-888-632-0108 or contact us here to speak for free with a Thornton Law Firm attorney specializing in mesothelioma and asbestos litigation. We look forward to answering any questions you may have after this visit to our website. We are here to help.

Pleural Mesothelioma

What is pleural mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma manifests in the pleura, which is the tissue surrounding the lungs. It is the most common form of mesothelioma, accounting for about 75 percent of diagnoses. Following are common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma:

  • Persistent dry or raspy cough
  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Pain in the lower back or rib area
  • Painful breathing
  • Development of lumps under the skin on the chest
  • Difficulty of swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Night sweats or fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue

Between ten and 20 percent of all pleural mesothelioma cancers are sarcomatoid mesothelioma, an extremely aggressive subtype of pleural mesothelioma with an elusive diagnosis. About five percent of patients diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma have desmoplastic mesothelioma, which is even harder to diagnose.

What causes pleural mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma is linked to long-term, work-related exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. The disease has also been diagnosed in family members of people who worked in asbestos-contaminated environments and people who live in older homes constructed with asbestos products.

When microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne, they can be inhaled. Once in the lungs, the fibers can migrate and lodge in the pleura, causing irritation, chronic inflammation and scarring. In some cases, pleural mesothelioma develops.

Of those who contract pleural mesothelioma, about 80 percent are older men, partly because of their greater presence in industrial workplaces in the ‘60s and ‘70s and the disease’s long latency period.

What are some treatment options for pleural mesothelioma?

As with other cancers, treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Because the average life expectancy of someone with the disease ranges from four to 18 months, depending on the age and overall health of the patient, doctors often recommend aggressive treatment. Known as multimodal therapy, it combines multiple treatments in quick succession.

Call the trusted Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyers at Thornton Law Firm, LLP for a free consultation

Thornton Law Firm offers free consultations and services provided on a contingency-fee basis. You don’t pay if we don’t win your case. We can help protect your rights as we pursue compensation. Call us today at 1-888-632-0108 or contact us online.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma

Massachusetts Lawyers Explain the Differences Between Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma and Other Types of Cancer

What is sarcomatoid mesothelioma?

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the most aggressive type of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Most sarcomatoid tumors develop in the protective lining, or pleura, of the lungs. Sarcomatoid tumors are sometimes called sarcomatous, diffuse malignant fibrous and spindled mesothelioma. The tumors are made up of giant, spindle-shaped cells in fibrous bundles. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is more resistant to treatment than other types of mesothelioma.

Patients diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma survive an average of fewer than six months, but chances of living longer vary greatly depending on a patient’s age and total health. Desmoplastic mesothelioma is a variant of sarcomatoid mesothelioma, along with transitional mesothelioma and lymphohistiocytoid mesothelioma.

Distinguishing facts about sarcomatoid mesothelioma include the following:

  • Most aggressive type of mesothelioma
  • Tumors resemble spindles in fibrous bundles
  • More resistant to treatment than other types of mesothelioma
  • Accounts for 10 to 20 percent of pleural mesothelioma cases
  • Accounts for about four percent of peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma cases
  • Tumors frequently metastasize to surrounding tissue
  • Tumors may appear as nodules or lesions and rarely as a localized mass

How is sarcomatoid mesothelioma diagnosed?

The first sign in a cancer diagnosis is usually the appearance of a mass in a patient’s X-ray, CT scan or MRI. This usually prompts doctors to test a sample of fluid from the patient’s lungs. If tests are inconclusive, or if a more precise diagnosis is desired, doctors perform a biopsy, removing a sample of the mass for testing. A biopsy is the only way to study a patient’s cancer cells under a microscope.

What are some ways sarcomatoid mesothelioma is treated?

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the most aggressive type of mesothelioma, so most doctors recommend immediate, aggressive treatment. Every case is different, but surgery is rarely an option because sarcomatoid tumors are often rigid and attached to a patient’s chest wall in pleural mesothelioma patients or encase internal organs of abdominal mesothelioma patients.

Depending on the disease’s stage and tumor location, treatment options may include the following:

  • Surgery
  • Standard chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Selenite drug therapy with doxorubicin
  • CYVADIC (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, adriamycin and dacarbazine)

Selenite with doxorubicin and CYVADIC are drug combinations used in chemotherapy treatments that have shown promising results for sarcomatoid mesothelioma patients.

Call experienced asbestos lawyers for a free consultation

You have rights. We can help. Thornton Law Firm in Massachusetts offers free consultations. Our legal services are provided on a contingency-fee basis, so you don’t pay if we don’t win your case. Call us today at 1-888-632-0108 or contact us online.

Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, which normally affects the pleura. The pleura are made up of two layers of tissue providing protection and support for the lungs and other vital structures in the chest. When the cancer is found in the abdomen, it is known as peritoneal mesothelioma.

Below are the main types of mesothelioma cancer:

  • Pericardial (heart)
  • Testicular (testicle)

Pleural mesothelioma is by far the most common form, accounting for 75 percent of all asbestos-related cancer diagnoses. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less frequently diagnosed than pleural mesothelioma and is usually found in the abdominal region of the body. Pericardial mesothelioma is rare. It specifically targets the area around the heart. Testicular mesothelioma manifests in the lining of the testicles and accounts for less than one percent of diagnoses.

How do I know if I have mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma may not develop until 30 years or even longer after asbestos exposure. Following are the most common symptoms of mesothelioma affecting both men and women:

  • Pleural
    • Persistent dry or raspy cough
    • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
    • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
    • Pain in the lower back or rib area
    • Painful breathing
    • Development of lumps under the skin on the chest
    • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
    • Night sweats or fever
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Fatigue
  • Peritoneal
    • Abdominal pain or swelling
    • Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
    • Development of lumps under the skin on the abdomen
    • Night sweats or fever
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Fatigue
    • Anemia
  • Pericardial
    • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
    • Chest pains
    • Heart murmurs
    • Cough
    • Difficulty breathing, even when at rest (dyspnea)
    • Orthopnea (dyspnea that occurs when lying down)
    • Fatigue
    • Fever or night sweats

Talk to a qualified Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyer

Thornton Law Firm represents clients nationwide. Our firm offers free consultations and contingency-based legal services. You don’t pay if we don’t win. Call us today at 1-888-632-0108 or contact us online.

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