Mesothelioma and other cancers caused by toxic exposures in the workplace claim 742,000 lives around the world every year. That’s one person every 43 seconds. The time to address toxic workplace exposures has never been more pressing as it is amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

One objective of IOSH, a group made of 47,000 health and safety professionals in 120 countries, is to make sure that employers don’t lose sight of the need to protect workers from carcinogens as they focus on the risks associated with COVID-19.

As part of its “No Time to Lose” campaign, IOSH recently held a webinar addressing four serious workplace carcinogens: asbestos, silica dust, solar radiation, and diesel fumes.

Webinar participants from all walks of life shared personal stories and professional observations, collectively demonstrating why managing asbestos and other cancer-causing risks in the workplace is so important, and how it can be done effectively.

Meso treatments and isolation

face mask 750x420 Mesothelioma and other work related cancers during COVID 19 pandemicMavis Nye, who ingested asbestos fibers and contracted mesothelioma by shaking out her husband’s asbestos-laden work clothes decades ago, underscored the frightening reality some mesothelioma patients are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mesothelioma is hitting younger people. Organizations need to monitor the air. Because of COVID, my treatment was stopped, we can’t stop cancer treatment as we go into a second wave,” Ms. Nye shared with the webinar audience.

Ms. Nye was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009 and was given a prognosis of three months to live. She has since established the Mavis Nye Foundation to help other people and families ravaged by mesothelioma find hope and light in the face of a deadly disease with no known cure.

Jody Dutton, another webinar participant, shared how occupational mesothelioma affected the lives of her family when her mother was diagnosed at age 57. Ms. Dutton said her mom was “fit and well” when she received the devastating diagnosis. But because of COVID, “she had to stay home and self-isolate and it caught up with her,” Ms. Dutton said. “She didn’t want people to know how ill she was. She was taken into hospital and then sadly passed away at the hospice at the age of 58.”

“COVID had a significant impact on my mum’s treatments,” she added. “I want to use my mum’s story to raise awareness.”

Mesothelioma-weakened immune systems and COVID

People with mesothelioma also have weakened immune systems that make them more vulnerable to a COVID-19 infection, as well as more prone to serious COVID symptoms. When a person suffers from mesothelioma, the body directs more of its immune system’s cells, nutrients, and energy to fighting the cancer, diminishing its ability to battle the COVID-19 virus.

For people older than 65, the coronavirus poses an even greater threat. Because mesothelioma is usually a slow-developing disease, often taking decades to become symptomatic, most people diagnosed with it are seniors. In the U.S., seniors account for 80% of COVID-19 deaths, according to federal health statistics.

Our mesothelioma lawyers can help

Beasley Allen lawyers handle mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma. Charlie Stern in our Toxic Torts Section is the lead attorney working on these types of cases. As an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, Charlie is well equipped to tackle asbestos cases, which are highly complicated and require someone with a true understanding of the facts, medical issues, science and law. He is working together with Will Sutton, an experienced lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. Contact us for more information.

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