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Workers pay a high price for working with asbestos

Asbestos cases are tragic, no matter the circumstance, whether to shipyard workers in California, or in other industrial uses throughout the country. Workers innocently went through their day, often inhaling asbestos laden dust on a regular basis. For many workers this meant an early grave from mesothelioma, while for others it left them with decades of worry, always wondering if that cough that wouldn't go away was something more than a cold.

A story about UNARCO, a manufacturer of asbestos insulation products in Illinois tells a typical tale. A man who worked in the plant for a few years in the 1950s finds his illness is not pneumonia, but asbestosis, a deadly lung disease caused by the scaring of the lungs by the thousands of tiny lacerations caused by the presence of asbestos fibers deep in his lungs.

His family has been deeply marked by asbestos. His brother died back in 1981 after having worked at the plant for eight years. His father died in 1977 after having worked in the plant.

He tells how the company would X-ray workers every year. The workers thought it was to protect their health. Actually, it was to protect the company's bottom line. If they found spots on the lungs of workers, they would terminate them before they might be obligated to pay their health costs as they died. Heartwarming.

And his story is like that of thousands of other workers. Nor is this a story that only occurred in the past. Workers today are often exposed to asbestos materials because someone does not want to go to the expense of protecting them. 

Source: Claims Journal, "History of Asbestos in McLean County, Illinois," June 10, 2013