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Asbestos Mesothelioma and New York City Firemen

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New York, NYCarlos, his father, and his brother all worked for the New York City Board of Education for years. They were what are known as 'Firemen' – men who worked on and in the boilers of the schools in New York City. Now it seems the family business may include asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos VictimSeveral years ago, Carlos' father became ill and was told he had emphysema. However, after several rounds of testing at a special unit at Mount Sinai Hospital, which was set up after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers, his father in fact had asbestos related disease.

Carlos' father worked for the New York City Board of Education – at the same schools – for about 20 years. When his 2 sons were old enough to take to the job, he brought them with him so they could learn what he was doing. Not surprisingly, when Carlos was 18 he was offered with the Board of Education.

Working in the Cradle of Asbestos Disease

"I worked for the board of education in New York City, as did my entire family--my 2 brothers, and my mother," said Carlos. Carlos' father was a 'Fireman'."Firemen are the people who work in the boilers," he says. "We had to suit up and go into the boilers and clean them out. And deal with the broken pipes. The basements of the schools are full of asbestos. The suits we wore were made of paper. But there were no rules about what we had to wear, or how to do what we did. We just taught ourselves, we made it up as we went along. The only testing that was ever done was testing to see if the boilers were properly cleaned."

Today, Carlos' father is seriously ill, but has been told that his statute of limitations has run out for taking legal action. Carlos is concerned and upset, not only because it is apparently too late for his 63-year-old father, but also because Carlos is beginning to experience chest pains and difficulty breathing--and he's just 30 years old. "My father fell through the cracks," Carlos said. So I'm getting tested now, chest x-rays, everything. I want to know if what I have is caused by asbestos."

Asbestos may also have had a role in the death of Carlos' mother. She would wash her husband's work clothes, clothes that were very likely contaminated with asbestos dust from the pipes and boilers her husband worked on day in, day out. "My mother also passed away from chest problems," added Carlos. "She came into contact with his clothes. Her death certificate said she died from chest related problems."

Millions of People Remain At Risk for Asbestos Mesothelioma

Carlos and his brothers should be concerned about the risk of asbestos mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. The latency period can be up to 30 years, but that doesn't mean to say that is always the case. Asbestos can affect people differently.

While none of the official bodies, like the Board of Education, apparently want to speak to Carlos about this matter, his story is, sadly, not unusual. The number of asbestos mesothelioma lawsuits bear witness to that fact. The Environmental Working Group Action Fund estimates that 10,000 people a year die from asbestos-caused diseases in the United States, which includes one out of every 125 American men who die over the age of 50. In fact it's estimated that 1.3 million construction workers still face significant exposure to asbestos during renovations, demolitions, and asbestos removal, and more than 27 million workers were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1980. Families of those people will want some answers. Just like Carlos.



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