Man’s Death Proves Even a Little Asbestos Exposure Can Be Deadly

Each year, 2,000-3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. In other countries, like England and Australia, thousands more are diagnosed and at an alarmingly increasing rate due to the extended use of the material well into the 90s.

As mesothelioma has a long latency period, it often takes 40-50 years to detect the disease and, in many cases, the individual who is diagnosed is hard-pressed to make the connection between their disease and exposure to asbestos. Such was the case of a British man from England who recently died of asbestos-caused cancer.

Roger Beale, of Welwyn, England, sought medical attention more than three years ago when he began feeling short of breath and experiencing chest pains. Doctors believed he had a serious upper respiratory infection. But as time progressed and symptoms grew worse, doctors ordered more tests and eventually diagnosed the 64-year-old with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

To Beale and his family, the diagnosis was at first perplexing, reports the Welwyn Hatfield Times. Then they remembered that – for 2 days in 1967 – he had worked in a factory where asbestos was present. It was the only time he had been exposed to the toxic material.

Coroner Edward Thomas explained: “For a short period of time, about two to three days, [Beale] was working in a factory in 1967 and was required to cut asbestos with a circular saw, and it was no doubt from that that would have involved inhaling asbestos dust.”

“He had no mask, and no protection, it was on his clothes when he went home,” Thomas continued. “I am satisfied that he had a quite substantial exposure to asbestos.”

Researchers have long argued that even a minimal exposure to asbestos can be deadly. It only takes one fiber to cause the formation of cancerous tumors, and though the higher the exposure, the higher the risk of developing the disease, Beale is proof that protective gear should always be warn, even if exposure is short-lived. The fact that Beale was not required to change clothes or shower before heading home may have also resulted in seco ndhand exposure for his family, an issue that is very prevalent in England.

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