Every case of malignant mesothelioma is a tragedy, but the most heart-wrenching may be those involving victims who were unknowingly exposed as children. In the United States, most childhood exposure came either fro second-hand exposure to asbestos carried on working parents’ clothing or from having been exposed to the material left behind in mining towns and near asbestos factories. In Australia there are thousands of people who grew up in homes that used “Mr. Fluffy” asbestos as insulation, and now an entire generation is considered to be at risk.
Mesothelioma Patient Remembers Playing in Piles of Insulation
One of those is James Wallner, a 54-year-old man who was recently diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Wallner remembers playing in asbestos insulation as a toddler in 1970, when he and his brothers found piles of it in their garage. Contractors had placed it there in preparation for a renovation and insulation job. They children had played in it as if it was snow.
Australia banned the use of Mr. Fluffy asbestos in 1979, but that was too late for many who would eventually be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. The loose-fill asbestos was pumped into the attics of more than 1,000 homes in the Canberra area of the country, and after a survey the government determined that of 17,249 residents of the homes between 1983 and 2013, seven had already been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Though this number seems low, it represented a 2.5 times greater risk than that of the general population.
No Compensation Available for Mr. Fluffy Mesothelioma Victims
Though the Australian government financed a remediation program to remove the insulation, they refused to accept liability for the costs of any asbestos-related illnesses that resulted. As a result, mesothelioma victims like Mr. Wallner are now facing difficult decisions.
After having gone through two rounds of chemotherapy and looking at eight more in the future, Mr. Wallner says that he and his wife have discussed whether treating his mesothelioma makes sense. “I’ve sort of said to my wife, it may not be a good investment. Do we sacrifice her financial future and retirement … and the costs that come with trying to look after your kids, for treatments that may or may not extend your life?” He has written to the government, asking for a compensation fund for himself and those like him. “I have no access to workers’ compensation because I was a three-year-old playing in it. I have no access to e able to sue, or take to court the company, or the manufacturer of the product. It astounds me that somewhere in the process, they didn’t consider that there will be people like me that are actually going to die from the disease.”
As Australians work to find a way to help people like Mr. Wallner, mesothelioma victims in the United States have the right to pursue justice against those that exposed them to the carcinogenic material. For information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.