As a child, a woman named Heather never though that wearing her father’s old work jacket would one day lead her to developing the toxic illness, mesothelioma, brought about by inhaling asbestos fibers.
“As a kid, I would grab my dad’s coat off the doorknob in our entryway and wear it when I fed my rabbits, or did my chores in the yard,” Heather told the NewStatesman.
“I remember very distinctly, it smelled like my dad, like his cologne or his soap on the rope.It was roomy and warm, like wrapping myself in my dad’s hug. And it was covered in a greyish-white crust from all the drywall he installed and pulled down.”
This “greyish-white crust” from the drywall was actually dust from asbestos. Asbestos is a toxic mineral once used in abundance at construction sites. When asbestos fibers are disturbed, they can easily be inhaled or ingested. The fibers remain in the body for years, leading to malignant DNA mutation.
Heather’s diagnosis of mesothelioma occurred just mere months after she gave birth to a little girl. She was later told she had only a little over a year to live. Her daughter, Lily, was told from an early age about the dangers of asbestos, as her mother has become a staunch advocate for the ban of asbestos in her home country, the UK.
She spends as much time as she can rallying against companies that still use the dangerous asbestos in their products. She also complains to politicians who attempt to stop asbestos regulations.
Although asbestos has not been manufactured in the U.S. since 2002, importing was in the process of declining. But according to the Statesman, President Donald Trump stopped emphasis on banning its imports, and its previous decline is something that originally gave Heather hope that the dangerous mineral would one day be completely banned.
Imports on asbestos reportedly came close to doubling when the Toxic Substances Control Act got a recent overhaul. A Sept. 2017 review by head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, discussed the risks of allowing new asbestos imports in the U.S., but failed to evaluate asbestos materials that are already the country. Now, Heather, who had been meeting with congressmen and senators to raise awareness regarding asbestos-related diseases, thinks that it’s impossible to one day get an absolute all on anything asbestos.
Heather told the Statesman that when she visited the offices of the Congress and Senate to spread awareness and lobby for an asbestos review, she was treated rudely by Republicans and never heard back from them. She stated that Democrats, in the past, were more “thoroughly engaged.”
Even though the UK didn’t decline to increase asbestos regulations, there are numerous buildings and homes in the country that were once built with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Heather said she blamed HGTV, a home U.S.-based home improvement channel, for people still developing asbestos illnesses in the UK.
As housing prices soar, more people are reportedly opting to fix up their older homes, which possibly contain asbestos, rather than purchase a new home. Further, many people cannot afford to hire a renovator, and home improvement programs typically do not offer much warning when it comes to asbestos exposure.
However, despite her pessimism that asbestos will never be completely banned, Heather said she will continue to work toward the “global cooperation of asbestos victims.” Yet, she finds it “incredibly disheartening that this blatant favoritism emboldens chemical companies globally because the US, which should be a world leader, is championing their cause,” according to the Statesman.
The Dangers of Second-Hand Asbestos
Heather never worked around asbestos herself, which remains the leading reason that people develop asbestos-related diseases in the first place. However, the family of those who did work around the toxic material are at risk if they come into contact with asbestos with it.
Second-hand asbestos exposure, also referred to as secondary asbestos exposure, occurs when asbestos fibers transfer from someones skin, work tools, hair, or clothing, and onto an unsuspecting victim. In Heather’s case, her father’s old work coat was not left at work, nor was it washed and cleaned prior to bringing it into the family home. The asbestos fibers transferred from his coat and into the Heather’s lungs, just by simply wearing her dad’s coat.
To learn more about asbestos exposure, including second-hand asbestos exposure, refer to our article, Asbestos Exposure.
Additional Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, now is the time to take the first steps in determining what you may be eligible for. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more. For additional assistance, contact us toll-free at 800-793-4540.