A report in a British newspaper describes the terrible legacy of asbestos disease that families of asbestos workers face. Asbestos is associated with scarring of the lungs and mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lung and abdomen.
According to a Jan. 17 article in the Yorkshire Post, eight adult children of Kora Leah, who was a foreman at Cape Asbestos in Hebben Bridge, Yorkshire, have been diagnosed with asbestos-related disease. The family has lost two siblings in recent months to mesothelioma.
When Marjorie King, one of Leah’s daughters died last July at age 67, a tumor was found on her right lung and asbestos particles were discovered in her lung tissue. Deputy Coroner Paul Marks concluded after an inquest that she died of mesothelioma.
Her sister, Maureen McGeogh, 73, of West Yorkshire, recalled that she and her siblings would play with their father when he returned home from work with his clothes still covered in asbestos dust. “I remember my mother shaking his overalls and dust going everywhere,” McGeogh recalled.
She said the children sometimes accompanied their father to work on Sunday and would play in the piles of dust. They were unaware of the danger of the asbestos dust.
Of the other siblings, Gerald, 78, has pleural plaques and emphysema while Cedric, 74, Rosalind, 71, Raymond, 69 and Glynn, 64, all have scarred lungs. Because of their secondhand exposure to asbestos they are at higher risk of developing mesothelioma.
The father Kora Leah died of lung cancer in 1958, 10 years after leaving Cape Asbestos, according to the newspaper.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is evidence that family members of workers heavily exposed to asbestos face an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. The risk results from exposure to asbestos brought into the home on clothing, shoes, skin and hair.
When asbestos fibers get inhaled, they get trapped in the lung and remain there for a long time. The symptoms of mesothelioma typically appear 30 years to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. Possible signs of mesothelioma include shortness of breath and pain under the rib cage, pain or tightening of the chest, and a persistent cough that gets worse over time. It’s important to check with a doctor if you develop any of these symptoms and inform the doctor of any known exposure to asbestos.