Asbestos Exposure: Risks, Victims & Claims

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Asbestos and Cancer
When you view the many pages in this "In Memory" section you will find that cancer has been responsible for the demise of many Cassiarites. Some people have written to me and expressed their surprise by the relatively large proportion of deaths caused by cancer. Some are concerned if exposure to asbestos may have been responsible for some of the cancers and some suspect that to be the case.

First of all let me preface the following by stating emphatically that I am not a medical authority on the topic. However I have heard it said (and believe to be true) that if one lives long enough and doesn't die from accident or other diseases that eventually cancer will kill you. The quality control process for production of cells in our bodies degrades with increasing age and that is how cancer starts. So did asbestos exposure contribute to the deaths of the Cassiarites listed here? Good question! Maybe it did in some cases but maybe not. There were remarkably few fatal cases of asbestosis or asbestor-releated diseases in Cassiar residents that I am aware of, but you may know of others. Please recognize that is information is limited to the facts provided to me either by the person before their own demise, of family and friends sharing the news with me. If you know of any Cassiarites that have been striken with or have died from Asbestosis, Mesothelioma or Multiple Myeloma please let me know.

These are the ones I'm aware of and their name are hyperlinked to their obituaries.



Multiple Myeloma:

More information on these diseases

In approximately 2001-2 I learned of a doctor living on Vancouver Island who was dying of asbestosis. He was a former Cassiarite, not a doctor then. I tried to contact him or his family but never heard back. I don't recall his name.

We have to consider the very real possibility that there are likely others who have died of asbestos-related causes but they or their families:

In my humble opinion I really doubt that the incidence of cancer-caused deaths is higher for Cassiarites than for residents/ex-residents of other communities.

One key point to consider is that Chrysotile, the type of asbestos found in Cassiar, has low risk association with asbestosis. There are many other kinds of asbestos fibre and some, if not all, of the other types have higher risk associations than Chrysotile does.

Bill Plumb, former chief geologist at Cassiar wrote:

As far as I know, there is very little or no fibrous tremolite in the Cassiar orebody. Tremolite is a fibrous form of amphibole and very seldom included in chrysotile orebodies.  I think there are other deposits in the world where tremolite may be mined as asbestos, but do not know of any.  It is a hydrous calcium magnesium silicate, while chrysotile is simply a hydrous magnesium silicate.  Both can contain some iron in the molecule. I have only found the acicular, non-fibrous form of tremolite near the Cassiar mine.  It is not really considered an important form of asbestos.

There is, however, another amphibole asbestos of more importance. Crocidolite (Blue asbestos), a sodium iron silicate, was mined in South Africa a century ago and used as an insulator in New York, where it was blown dry into the walls of buildings.  It was workers who did this that developed asbestosis and came to the attention of a Dr. Selicoff at the Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York several years later and he caused the asbestos scare that later killed the asbestos industry, even though it was not primarily due to chrysotile.

If you are about to suggest to me that I conduct some kind of study to research this matter - no, I won't be doing that. I will leave that to you. However feel free to report your findings to me for consideration to add to this website.

As I was exposed to asbestos for most of the first twenty nine years of my life I am understandably concerned about the matter. Cassiar Asbestos Corporation encouraged their employees to stop smoking after the medical community announced that smoking increased the risk of contracting asbestosis by 400% over those that didn't smoke. I think that was in about the late 1970's. I used to smoke then. I quit a few years after learning that and I haven't smoked since. I have told my doctor of my history of asbestos exposure and smoking so I get a chest X-ray every few years. The sad news is that he told me that by the time something shows up in an X-ray it would be too late to do anything about it. According to a news report (BCTV News, May 29, 2001) there are efforts underway to develop tests for early detection of lung cancer, but in general motivation in this area is surprisingly weak in the research field and so financial backing is poor. There isn't much happening in the field. If you smoke I suggest you quit now. Have you told your doctor about your exposure history?

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioama is a rare form of cancer and most (not all) victims of it breathed, or were exposed to asbestos. There are many websites with information about the disease. Here are links which I found to be informative or provided by organizations that have contacted me to request their link be added:

Asbestos and Multiple Myeloma

Courtesy of John Murray.

Multiple Myeloma is a particularly nasty cancer of the blood plasma which eats away bone structure and destroys the immune system (was at one time considered a bone cancer). Multiple myeloma is the second most prevalent blood cancer and represents approximately 1% of all cancers and 2% of all cancer deaths, so it is relatively rare.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation says: "What Occupations and Types of Exposures Have Been Associated With Multiple Myeloma? Agricultural occupations, petroleum workers, workers in leather industries, and cosmetologists with exposure to herbicides, insecticides, petroleum products, heavy metals, plastics, and various dusts including asbestos seem to have a higher-than-average chance of multiple myeloma. In addition, individuals exposed to large amounts of radiation, such as survivors of the atomic bomb explosions in Japan, have an increased risk for multiple myeloma".

Herb Daum

This page was last edited Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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