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New law passed on asbestos exposure comes too late for 1 man

One widow became an advocate for her late husband — yet another victim of the insidious mesothelioma caused from workplace asbestos exposures — and was gratified to see her labors come to fruition earlier this summer.

Back in June, President Obama affixed his signature to a bill that makes it simpler for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to outlaw certain dangerous substances like asbestos. The law, known as the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, received rare bipartisan support for saving the lives of both consumers and workers. It will affect almost all beauty products, cars, cleansers, cans of food and paint thinner sold and manufactured here in the USA.

Yet the widow's victory was tinged with bittersweet memories, as her husband did not survive his battle long enough to share the victory with her.

He spent 15 long years working for a carpetmaker. His duties included cleaning out debris and lint from huge dryers after the carpets underwent treatment with flame retardants and other harsh chemicals.

In 2008, he got a physical and his chest X-ray indicated fluid in the lungs. A diagnostic procedure revealed mesothelioma. The couple sued his former employer and eventually were offered a settlement.

But the man who had planned to travel and golf with his wife after retirement died in 2010 at only 56. There would be no retirement and no traveling together.

There is no sugar-coating a mesothelioma diagnosis, but justice can sometimes be sought by legally pursuing former employers who negligently exposed their workers to the deadly long-term effects of asbestos.

Source: Times Free Press, "Asbestos to be banned, but not before Wendy Roberts lost her husband," Lynda Edwards, July 24, 2016

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