Mesothelioma Patient Stories:
Asbestos on Father's Clothing is a "Take Home Hazard"
Environmental and epidemiology experts have confirmed a risk related to "take home hazards." These hazards are related to poisonous materials that contaminate the clothing, food or vehicle of the worker. The worker then inadvertently brings these poisons home to the family members. Asbestos is known to be a take home hazard. Exposure to asbestos dust can cause the inhalation and lodging of this dust in the lungs. Once lodged, the asbestos fibers cause inflammation in the lungs, leading to deadly asbestos lung cancer and diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestosis occurs when there is heavy scarring in the lungs due to the inflammation, while mesothelioma is a highly aggressive form of cancer that starts in the lining of the lungs, where the asbestos fibers settle after inhalation.
This story relates to a man from Texas who inadvertently contaminated his family with asbestos. Working in the large chemical and oil refinery plants along the gulf coast of Texas, he installed and maintained the insulation used to cover large areas of high heat in these plants. Unfortunately, that insulation consisted of asbestos, and each day he worked with insulation, asbestos fibers filled the air he breathed. His family remembers the white dust being everywhere, in their father's clothes and in his car, even in his lunch box.
The children vividly remember the daily ritual, as they waited at home for their father to arrive from work. He would come home and hug each of them. Then he would strip off the clothes that were coated with the white dust, fold them and lay them in the washroom.
At age 56, the father contracted mesothelioma and died a short time later. The family was very saddened by his early and sudden passing. The daughter had unwittingly also been contaminated with these asbestos fibers. When she reached her early forties, she noticed that she tired easily. When breathing became labored and the coughing spells started, doctors gave gave her a diagnosis of tuberculosis and then pneumonia. After surgery to remove part of her lungs, she was sent home. A short time later she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Doctors asked if she had ever worked in or around asbestos insulation or an asbestos plant. Of course, the answer to these questions was no.
When she realized that she had contracted the same disease that had caused her father so much pain and suffering, she felt completely defeated. Now, she would suffer the same fate. This anguish turned to anger as she and her husband's research revealed that the asbestos manufacturers knew about the dangers of asbestos exposure long before her father brought the white dust home on his clothing.
The family has now suffered through two grave losses. The three grandchildren are left without a mother or grandfather. Luckily, at least for the time being, the uncle, who also worked with plant insulation in his younger years, still appears to be healthy. This "take home hazard" of asbestos will continue to inflict suffering for many years, as the generations of workers' offspring contract this disease without ever working in the plants or directly with asbestos.
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[Page updated October 2006]