Blue killer unchecked in South Africa’s toxic towns

Quoted from http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2012/08/09/blue-killer-unchecked-in-south-africa-s-toxic-towns

Blue killer unchecked in South Africa’s toxic towns

Sapa-AFP | 09 August, 2012

Death knows the small town of Prieska all too well.

A poisonous legacy of South Africa’s years as a global blue asbestos hub, the Grim Reaper has snaked through here for decades, wiping out families and striking down neighbours with deadly precision.

“In most of the houses in our street, there is someone who has died of asbestosis or mesothelioma,” said Chris Julius, 58, who was diagnosed with asbestos cancer three months after his mother-in-law passed away next door.

A former teacher, Julius never worked at the town’s mill or in the nearby hills where mining started in the late 1800s along rich deposits known as the country’s “asbestos mountains” that run along the vast Northern Cape.

But he has mesothelioma, an aggressive lung cancer whose diagnosis is a death sentence.

“It felt like I was going to the electric chair,” said Julius, who lives 100 metres (yards) from where the now-demolished mill once spat dust over the town.

“I still feel the same. I live from one day to the next. I can’t really plan. It’s very difficult for me to say goodbye, I can’t even discuss it with my wife. For her, it’s just as emotional an issue.”

[Article continues at original source]

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