Mesothelioma is an insidious, devastating disease. Primary mesothelioma causes include asbestos exposure, which has raised the rate of occurrence of the disease in the United States from around one per one million citizens to somewhere between seven and 40 per million.
That’s a large spike, and it has its roots in historical asbestos use in a variety of commercial contexts. Uses of asbestos include insulation on ships and in buildings, among other things. Asbestos, in its commercially applicable form, is very lightweight and almost feathery. When disturbed, it’s possible for miniscule asbestos fibers to be inhaled, where they become embedded in the delicate pleural lining of the lungs. Once inhaled, there’s a latency period that can last anywhere from 10 to 50 years before mesothelioma’s symptoms manifest themselves.
Inhalation (or ingestion) is the most common way asbestos gets inside the body, and coming in contact with asbestos fibers at work is a very common way victims come into contact with asbestos. However, it’s not the only way. Another circumstance for contact with asbestos can be via contact with someone who works with asbestos. Since asbestos fibers are so light, they can alight on a worker’s clothing, who can then unwittingly carry the killer home with him or her. Once those clothes are moved—say, by handling the clothes when washing them—it’s possible for the fibers on them to become disturbed, airborne, and inhaled.
It’s in this way that Julie Gundlach, a 39-year-old woman and St. Louis resident, claims that she contacted asbestos and subsequently contracted mesothelioma. According to a mesothelioma article found on MesotheliomaCancerNews.com, Gundlach claims that her father used to work with asbestos in his workplace, and that is how she came in contact with the fibers that gave her this deadly cancer.
Her story is another tragic chapter in the long and sad history of mesothelioma.