Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mesothelioma Cases Rise in Wisconsin

Richard Herr of Racine, Wisonsin, was a sculptor and artist for years. In order to make the cast aluminum molds for his sculptures, he added "a couple handfuls of asbestos" to the mixture he used for each piece of art. Unaware of the hazards, Herr breathed in deadly amounts of asbestos over the years resulting in his recent death from mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive form of cancer primarily caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. Close to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the cancer yearly. There is no known cure for the disease.

According to an I-Team investigative report on TMJ4 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, thousands of people in the Milwaukee area are at risk of mesothelioma, and the number of cases continues to rise. The Center for Disease Control reports that the yearly death rate in Wisconsin is considered the top tier in the nation with a 25% higher rate than the average.

While asbestos is no longer used in the United States, past employees of companies that used asbestos-containing products are still at risk of developing mesothelioma. With the long latency period, many people do not develop symptoms for 60 years, and with the general life expectancy increasing, more people are susceptible to mesothelioma.

The CDC expects the number of mesothelioma cases in the United States to peak within the next few years.

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