Saturday, February 1, 2014
Mesothelioma - A Big Word With a Terrible Implication
I remember the first time I saw this, it struck me how much the men who built and later served in these ships must have been exposed to asbestos, a valuable and useful mineral with a terrible cost: mesothelioma. This is a lethal cancer of the lungs that is only caused by asbestos fiber inhalation. Thus, it is a totally preventable cancer. Yet, about 30 million pounds is used annually in the USA.
US Navy veterans of World War II and the Korean War have the highest incidence of asbestos related diseases. But of course, many others are afflicted as well. I have wondered for some time if my father could have been one of them. In the late 1930's through the mid-40's as a young man, he worked in ship yards as a shipwright and later as a naval architect, helping to build and design the ships that helped the men and women of that generation literally save the world. Forty years later, he was dying of a terrible lung cancer. It was not necessarily mesothelioma - he had been a smoker earlier in his life. But he certainly had been exposed to asbestos, and that could have been the cause of his death in 1983.
At the time my dad was working in the shipping industry, very little was known about the hazards of asbestos. That is not true today. Should we still be using so much of it? What will the cost be in 30 years to those handling it today? No level of exposure to asestos is safe.
Want to learn more about this not too well known cancer? Here is an excellent fact sheet about mesothelioma.