40-year veteran firefighter from Canada dies from asbestos exposure
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Firefighters in the U.S. and Canada can seek compensation through our firm for an asbestos-related illness, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you are considering filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, initiate a free evaluation of your case through the communication form at left.
January 29, 2010 -- A Canadian firefighter died last month from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.
Pickering, Ontario, firefighter Rex Heath, 61, died the day after Christmas after being diagnosed two years earlier with mesothelioma, a cancer caused almost exclusively by occupational asbestos exposure.
His death is being classified as a line-of-duty death because mesothelioma cancer is an occupational disease.
Heath served his community bravely and unselfishly for 40 years as a member of the Pickering Fire Services Co., first as a volunteer, then as a full-time firefighter, and later as chief fire prevention officer.
Asbestos exposure is an occupational hazard for firefighters. The toxic substance was used extensively to fireproof buildings throughout the 20th century, before being publicly condemned as a dangerous carcinogen.
When asbestos is disturbed or damaged during the course of battling a blaze, microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne, and can be inhaled by anyone who is not equipped with a respirator or other protective gear.
As fibers accumulate in the lungs over time, they lead to the formation of a tumor. Mesothelioma tends to be resistant to both chemotherapy and radiation therapy, treatments that are usually used to combat more common forms of cancer.
Fewer than 10 percent of patients live two years or more after diagnosis as Heath did; a testament to his strength and fortitude.
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