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Asbestos Testing a Family Concern

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Perryville, MDWhen Sophia saw a television announcement about the secondhand risks of asbestosis exposure, she was understandably concerned. Her father worked at the Bethlehem steel shipyards and was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a disease that is only caused by asbestos exposure.

Sophia, her mother and her siblings are wondering whether they should get tested for asbestosis. "None of us have gone to the doctor or even made any inquiries about getting tested because I think we are all scared of the consequences," says Sophia.

"My mom is having a lot of respiratory and pulmonary problems. She has been given 'trial and error' types of medications but nothing seems to work and that really concerns me. She has this nasty, dry cough that weakens her so I am worried.

"I remember dad coming home in his work clothes; he worked different shifts so sometimes I would be home from school. I washed his clothes and mom washed them. He took us driving in the car wearing his work clothes. But I don't specifically remember asbestos on him because none of us would have known what asbestos dust looked like.

"When we were growing up, I remember that dad was very active, and he was a big man. He was 6' 2" and 250 lbs when he retired, and he was in good shape. But this mesothelioma hit him hard and fast: he went down to 140 lbs suddenly."

Sophia doesn't remember her dad wearing any protective gear. Even though a set of guidelines titled The Minimum Requirements for Safety and Industrial Health in Contract Shipyards was published in 1943, and was approved by both the Secretary of the Navy and the Chairman of the Maritime Commission, compliance surveys taken at Bethlehem shipyards indicated that no change in the handling of asbestos resulted from the Navy's attempt to mandate safety standards.

Sophia does remember her dad wearing steel-toed boots and gloves, hardly protection against asbestos fibers. And she remembers his lunch box and thermos. "I used to make dad sandwiches; his favorite was a steak sub sandwich with a little bit of lettuce and mayo," she reminisces. "And black coffee."

Her dad was sick for about nine years before he went to a hospice. "I was really close to him," Sophia adds. "He always told me that his time was going to be short. I said, 'That isn't your call but if you want permission to leave, it's OK.' Then he asked me if he was a good father. Ohmigoodness yes. He was my hero.

"My mum said that my dad received compensation from an attorney after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma," says Sophia, "and I believe it was for an asbestos case but it couldn't have been much. Dad retired after working 22 years as a crane operator at the shipyard and he passed away in 2009 after five bouts of cancer, all stemming from asbestos.

"I have contacted an asbestos attorney, but to be honest, I don't know what to expect. Maybe I just want to talk about my dad. I just want the public to know what happened to him at this shipyard."

There are several diagnostic tests that Sophia and her family could take, but asbestosis is difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms are similar to those of many other types of respiratory diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic.

As for the Bethlehem shipyards, in 2008, a 73-year-old Baltimore man was awarded $15.3 million after a jury determined his cancer was linked to asbestos exposure while working at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Key Highway ship repair facility in the 1950s.

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Posted by

I would just like to assure this family as I have learned in my life and family, who also follow in my footsteps as I have followed my parents path...nothing will change the pain and suffering you all will endure and no matter how hard this truth that was done to us a family bonded by love and the need to be loved...this is the time in your lives when everything that matters in life, your life, will bring that love into your life like no other.Not much will you take for granted and all those lil things will seem to matter alot more and for everyday that you awake till the time you lay your just seems to matter to all those things that you love and give love back. We as human beings have needs and family and friends who matter in life, your all that matters. You are not alone and you will share and learn the truth to what was done to you.And like myself, I try to be as many victims as I can. It helps to have someone care.I care and God Bless this family and all who live and die with this exposure. Peace within.


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