Asbestos registry needed, says cancer patient

Quoted from

Asbestos registry needed, says cancer patient

Food plant inspector exposed to asbestos while working in older buildings

CBC News

Posted: Feb 28, 2012 9:04 PM ET

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Howard Willems, 59, who lives in Saskatoon, contracted mesothelioma while inspecting a number of older food plants in Saskatchewan.

Willems began lobbying for a registry in his home province, which he hopes will eventually spread across the country, shortly after being diagnosed.

He argues that “everyone has a right to know when they go into a workplace or when they’re going into a building, it is safe.”

Only a short time ago, Willems was fit enough to hike the Grand Canyon with his wife. Today, he needs a cane to walk. Though he remains upbeat, Willems had one lung removed in 2011 and his other lung is continually monitored.

Research shows that 98 per cent of people with mesothelioma die within three years.

Willems has been a federal food plant inspector for more than 30 years. He says he now realizes he was exposed to asbestos when he inspected plants while they were being renovated, especially during the removal of pipes with asbestos insulation.

“When the light hit the right way you could see the fibres in the air.”

He says no one seemed to be concerned at the time about the dangers of breathing in the fibres, and that a registry would help workers to be better informed.

“Something as simple as knowing and putting on a mask going into those scenarios could have prevented all of that,” he says, referring to his lung cancer.

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