Thursday, January 6, 2011

Caveat Lectores on Mesothelioma and Firefighters


Here is a submission from a Caveat Lectores reader. Matthew Phillips is a student at the University of Central Florida. He is aspiring writer with a passion for people's health. This Rant is about asbestos exposure of public safety employees. It is worth a read. The Lector will consider all submissions for publication.

“The heat is unbearable. But the firefighters arrive just in time. They reduce the flames and before long the situation is under control. Then come the paramedics, ready to attend to seared lungs and surface burns. Police officers tape off the area and manage the crowd of worried neighbors. Heroes. All of them.

Little do they know the dangers that float through the air and cling to their clothes as they work.

In older buildings and homes, manufacturers used a natural mineral called asbestos. It can still be found in dry wall and in insulation in those homes. Asbestos is fire-resistant and heat-resistant, and was supposed to make a lot of homes safer for a lot of people.

Today, when those homes are disturbed, for example, as you break down the walls of a burning building, asbestos fibers are released into the air. When inhaled, they may cause a deadly cancer to attack the lungs: mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma symptoms can include shortness of breath and chest heaviness. These symptoms subtle and are often confused with other more common, more treatable diseases. Even worse, mesothelioma symptoms are subject to extremely long latency periods, often for nonexistent for up to 50 years. By then, the cancer has metastasized and treatment is either difficult or impossible. The life expectancy of mesothelioma victims is incredibly short.

The government has taken measures to protect professionals like firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement officers from asbestos exposure. Though they passed laws, like 1971's OSHA, that were supposed to ban further use of asbestos, there are still thousands of homes and buildings built before those laws that contain asbestos.

Organizations like the AFL-CIO and other unions are rallying behind those who have already been exposed to asbestos and have developed mesothelioma. Through their efforts, many victims are receiving the support that they deserve.
But what can we do? Find out more about asbestos exposure and the dangers of mesothelioma. Search the web; ask a doctor; visit a library. There are resources designed to provide us with what we need to know. With more information, we have a better chance of stopping mesothelioma.

Our heroes have always protected us. It's time for us to protect them.”
Submitted by Matt Phillips:

And oh yes, have a nice Day?


Caveat Lectores by Jeff Carnes
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