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Asbestos: the Silent Killer

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Nathan Starling, from Orlando, Florida has never smoked a day in his life." What got me thinking about the asbestos was when the doctors saw me after my triple by-pass surgery and told the wife that I should quit smoking." For Nathan, there is no such thing as the golden years. "I think I've got copper instead."

"I was fine until a few years ago. I was a heavy equipment mechanic, stationed at the Niagara Falls air base in New York. Our building was insulated with powdered asbestos and we worked on big snow plows and snow blowers. We started them up inside the building and powder would flake down from the ceiling. I did this for three years while I was in the reserve and another three years in the Air Force. It was in 1963 and I was 30 years old.

"Nobody thought anything of it. I just knew I was getting short of breath and then when I had the triple by-pass, when they told the wife, the only thing I had been subject to was asbestos. I talked to my pulmonary doctor and he said asbestos could very well be the reason. They took xrays and my lungs were black. I can't do very much walking; if I take the garbage out I have to come back and take some oxygen. I have to take an oxygen bottle with me at all times, even driving, in case I get an attack, I am always out of breath.

"I am 69 and feel that I am too young to feel this way. We just weren't aware of the danger. And when I was a welder, for most of my military career of almost 14 years, we used powdered asbestos to control the heat as I welded. So I have been around asbestos a lot.

"I've always been a self-sufficient individual and felt that anything that happened in my younger life was my fault but now that I have figured this out, that asbestos is the culprit, I feel that, because I can't work ( I was terminated due to sickness), I should be compensated. I wanted to go back to work but couldn't get the doctor's approval. I am only collecting social security - I am not on disability but now I am thinking about it. Especially by the way the government is operating, we can't live off our pension so I am going to try to get disability benefits.

"Now I go to the pulmonary doctor every three or four months to see if I am any worse. Other than that, I just have to monitor my health. I can't get around much, just go to the doctor, and me and the wife go to church and grocery shop. After my living and medical expenses, there isn't much left.

If this story doesn't help me I hope it helps someone more deserving. Everyone should be aware of the danger of asbestos. The government should make the public as aware of asbestos as they do about cocaine.


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