When you think about professions that are at risk for malignant mesothelioma, the ones that come to mine include factory workers, firefighters, and construction workers. You imagine boiler rooms clouded with dust, or insulation being installed. The last occupation you would picture would be a hairdresser in a salon, cutting and curling hair and wielding cans of hairspray. But that is exactly what 80-year-old Calogero La Bella did for a living for several decades, and now he’s been diagnosed with the rare asbestos-related disease.
Hairdryers Were Lined With Asbestos
Mr. La Bella was diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United Kingdom, where he has lived since moving there from Italy when he was twenty years old. He claims to have worked in salons since the age of ten, and in that time he was exposed to countless handheld and over-the-head hair dryers in the various salons where he worked. In the 1970s and ‘80s, those hair dryers were lined with asbestos.
Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used throughout the 20th century as an insulator and to provide added strength and stability in a wide range of applications, with the greatest use found in industrial or construction settings. In the mid-1970s the material was identified as a carcinogen and was linked to malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer for which there is no cure.
Mesothelioma Victim Had Cleaned and Maintained Dryers
Looking back on his career after his mesothelioma diagnosis, Mr. La Bella feels certain that his asbestos exposure came from years of cleaning and maintaining hair dryers at salons throughout Yorkshire. “Cleaning the dryers was always a very dusty job,” he said, “and you would have to get rid of the dust and hair that had collected in them. I might have also had to replace the element or other aspects like wiring too. It is only in more recent years that I’ve come to learn that some devices made use of asbestos to prevent the dryers from catching fire.”
Because of difficulty in pursuing legal action against a specific employer or manufacturer, Mr. La Bella received compensation from a fund set up by the government to help pay for his illness. Though the funds help to pay for his expenses, they do little to ease the pain of confronting his death.
Asbestos exposure can arise from countless settings, leading to malignant mesothelioma and other serious illnesses. For information on the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.