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Claim: Children made 'snowballs' out of asbestos at plant

When we read about the victims of asbestos exposure, we may notice that many of them are older, retired and perhaps enjoying time with their grandchildren or even great grandchildren. This is because people who developed asbestos-related illnesses often did so after working at companies for many years where asbestos was present, and it can take decades for people to be diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. By the time a person learns that he or she has developed a terminal illness, it may be 50 years after they were exposed.

But there are also many cases of people much younger than that who have developed asbestos-related illnesses. These victims were just children when they were exposed to asbestos. People may be wondering how young children came into contact with such a toxic substance often found in industrial work environments. The answer is that many times, they were playing with the asbestos.

One woman recently filed a lawsuit after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. She was only 48 when she was diagnosed, which means that her exposure happened at a young age. According to her lawsuit, the woman says that she lived near an asbestos plant when she was little. Over the course of many years, the plant would generate so much asbestos dust that it covered windows and cars in the area. In fact, the asbestos was so common that kids would often use it as chalk or to make "snowballs" to throw at each other. The children and their parents never realized the risks associated with handling or ingesting the asbestos.

Even though the plant has since closed, the woman filed a lawsuit naming the plant's successor in order to pursue compensation for her illness and generate awareness among other residents who grew up in the area. She says that there are very likely others who are in the same position and this may give them the strength to come forward and take action. The company recently agreed to an undisclosed settlement that is said to be substantial.

Source: BBC, "Asbestos 'snowballs' cancer pay out," Oct. 17, 2013

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