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More Asbestos Workers with Lung Cancer

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Birmingham, ALBarry Parr (not his real name) didn't know the dangers of asbestos when he started working with it. In fact, for a long time most people didn't know that asbestos could lead to cancer. Unfortunately, a lot of products in the past century were made or packaged with asbestos. Barry worked with some of those products and now he has lung cancer.

Barry spent 15 years working for Griffin Wheel Company at a plant that made train wheels. When the plant was shut down in 1987, he was out of a job. By that point he had been exposed to enough asbestos to cause cancer. "There were a lot of chemicals there. They were in the smoke, too. We were breathing them in all the time. We didn't know it could hurt us."

In 1994, Barry was diagnosed with lung cancer. "A lot of guys had it. A lot of them have died. It's a sad thing." Barry says that many of the men he worked with refuse to go to a doctor. "They're scared of what the doctor will tell them," he says.

In addition to making train wheels, Barry also worked at a pipe manufacturer and worked with brake shoes on cars. Both of those jobs may also have exposed him to asbestos. "They use asbestos in a lot of things and you just don't know how dangerous they are," he says.

At his most recent doctor's visit, Barry was told his cancer is worsening. "I feel okay," he says. "I have problems, but I don't think too much about it. I don't really like to talk about it. There's a lot of guys who are the same way. I'm just one of them. I'm lucky because I'm still alive. But a lot of them have died."

Barry knows of one person who received a settlement for his asbestos exposure, but says that he doesn't know if the money helped. "He still died of cancer," Barry says. "I think he was the first one from our company that we heard about. Up until him we didn't know about the cancer. But then he got money and it turned out he had cancer from asbestos. That's how we found out we might have it, too."

Barry and many of his coworkers now deal with cancer because they were exposed to asbestos while on the job. "We didn't know about the dangers then," Barry says. "Eventually, they found out what asbestos would do to you. But I guess it was too late."


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