There is always a haunting air of inevitability in many of the stories involving asbestos. Whether shipyard workers in California, or residents of a village that was home to a large asbestos processing plant in Great Britain, those who have contracted an asbestos-related illness, like asbestos or mesothelioma, speak of the past wistfully.
They recount their interaction with asbestos, often commenting, that they did not know what it was at that time. Now, it is too late. Sadly, they know all too well what asbestos is and more importantly, what it does. It gives them mesothelioma.
A woman recalls playing with asbestos chunks, and using it as chalk. She and her siblings would make a hopscotch pattern on the sidewalk and her brother created a "zebra" crossing (a cross walk) on the street.
One can only cringe at the thought of millions of microscopic asbestos fibers being released as the hunk of asbestos scraped across a concrete or asphalt surface, and the small, innocent child, happily crouched over that surface, inhaling full breaths of asbestos dust.
And that was not all. The asbestos dust from the factory covered their home. They had to clean the screens on the windows to allow ventilation, ironically, with more asbestos dust. The grass of her yard was coated with a gray dust film.
She remembers her father, coming home with his dusty clothes, leaving gray footprints across the kitchen floor.
The parent company of the asbestos factory has disclaimed any liability for the woman's mesothelioma, but offered her a substantial settlement.
When people who don't know she is dying of mesothelioma ask how she can retire early and move to the country, she replies, "Just lucky, I guess." Some luck.
Source: BBC, "The children who played with asbestos," Francesca Williams, January 12, 2014