"These are the most innocent of the victims. These are the children who come home and hugged their father or the wife who is washing the clothes and exposed to asbestos dust"Kearse has worked countless hours litigating on behalf of workers affected by asbestos in the workplace. Tragically, asbestos-related disease often affects their families as well. "We have an increasing number of wives who have mesothelioma and children of asbestos workers that have developed mesothelioma," says Kearse from her office in Charleston, South Carolina.
"These are the most innocent of the victims. These are the children who come home and hugged their father or the wife who is washing the clothes and exposed to asbestos dust. Perhaps they got into the family car to go pick dad, and they're exposed to asbestos dust in the car."
It can take up to 40 years for asbestos-related disease to manifest itself. "The diseases diagnosed today are the result of exposures in past years," says Kearse. "But there is still documented exposure occurring today in places such as the brake manufacturing industry." Although health officials have known about the risks for years, asbestos is still being imported into the US from Canada and other places.
Workers and the public need to be aware that asbestos and asbestos-related disease are still a threat. The US Senate recently designated the first week in April as Asbestos Awareness week and urged the Surgeon General to warn and educate the public about the issue of asbestos exposure.
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Canada is one of the few places in the world that continues to mine and export asbestos to the US, China, India and other countries. The Canadian government defends the industry as safe and spends $250,000 supporting research to prove its safety and defend the product with lobbying efforts and public relations campaigns.
Anne Kearse joined the firm of Motley Rice in South Carolina in 2003. She believes corporations must be held accountable and has fought the asbestos and tobacco industries that put profits before safety. She holds a BS from Syracuse University (1983) and a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law (1998).