A recent newspaper article in England discussed the death of a man who had only been exposed to asbestos for a short time nearly 46 years ago. Experts say the frightening case highlights just how dangerous asbestos, even in small doses, can be.
The newspaper report revealed that Roger Beale first began experiencing mesothelioma symptoms, especially shortness of breath, about four years ago. The condition first arose when he noticed he had trouble walking up a flight of stairs, something he had been able to do with no problem before. Beale then took himself to the doctor for a chest X-ray and was initially told his problems were due to a simple chest infection.
Beale then noticed his problems worsening and sought medical attention again several months later, finally being diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. This condition, an incurable cancer of the lining of a person’s lungs, is almost always the result of exposure to asbestos.
Though mesothelioma is not uncommon, especially among those who work in the railroad industry, Beale’s case is unique and especially troubling. According to the recent medical inquest conducted by the local coroner, the man was only ever exposed to asbestos dust in 1967 for between two and three days. That means an asbestos exposure some 46 years ago for only several days was serious enough to result in the development of deadly mesothelioma.
According to the medical examiner, Beale was working in a factory in 1967 for a very short time, only two or three days, and was required to cut asbestos with a circular saw. Beale had no mask, and no protection and it was on his clothes when he went home. The medical examiner said that he was satisfied that it was this brief exposure to asbestos that resulted in his development of mesothelioma.
It’s scary for many people to think that such a relatively brief encounter with asbestos could have such lasting consequences. Sadly, workers in the railroad industry face similar risks due to their exposure to asbestos. The fiber was routinely used in the manufacturing of trains for decades up until the 1970s when OSHA limited its use in construction materials. Despite this limitation and the obvious health risks associated with the product, railroads continued using asbestos in many locomotive components. Even today, those employees who are in contact with equipment manufactured decades ago could still be exposed to dangerous asbestos dust.
Here's a video where two of my firm's attorneys discuss mesothelioma and its causes: