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Asbestos: the problem that never goes away, part 3

In our last post discussing the "No Safe Use" piece from the Globe and Mail, we want to look at the human cost of asbestos. While the asbestos industries' defense attorneys attempt to raise the specter of fraud with regard to many asbestos claims, the simple truth is thousands die every year from asbestos exposure and it will become worse before the situation improves.

When mesothelioma begins, it is found in the plural lining of the lungs. Normally, the pleural lining allows the lungs to move within the chest cavity without causing pain. When mesothelioma appears, breathing can become "excruciating." 

Stop and count the number of inhalations and exhalations you take in a minute. Then multiply those by the number of minutes in a day. Then imagine every one of them being excruciatingly painful.

The pain on the family is equally great. They witness the rapid decline of once vigorous, healthy fathers or grandfathers (men still make up the majority of the victims), loose significant amounts of weight as they lose their appetite and suffer nausea from treatment.

They struggle with every breath, feeling as if a pillow is placed on their face. Life expectancy is often six months to a year, if they are lucky. However, it is difficult to think of anyone with mesothelioma as ever being lucky.

Better therapy and research into development early methods of detection are vitally important. With a growing number of patients expected, it will be important to provide treatments that can both prolong and improve their quality of life.

Asbestos is a disease will affect a growing population and one that is more diverse. At one hospital the manager of clinical research lists those who have developed mesothelioma, which ranges from "teachers, a nuclear physicist, an architect, a sales associate who sold pens to asbestos companies," to bystanders and others who probably never thought it possible for them to develop mesothelioma.

Better education and government control is also essential, because with asbestos, as the title of the news article says, there is no safe use. 

Source: The Globe and Mail, "NO SAFE USE," Tavia Grant, June 13, 2014

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