Veronica O’Shea, Wife of a Chicago Asbestos
Veronica O’Shea contracted mesothelioma, a cancer whose only known cause is exposure to asbestos. Her husband Ed was a Local 17, Chicago, Asbestos Worker.
She had significant exposure to asbestos from washing her husband’s work clothes that were covered with white asbestos dust. Little did she know that asbestos stayed in the house to get “re-entrained” in the air. So just living in the house of an asbestos worker exposed her to a toxic level of asbestos dust.
Veronica and her family gave permission to have an autopsy so that her lung tissue could be examined to advance science with respect to household exposures.
The results of asbestos fiber analysis were staggering:
By light microscope, 7,480 asbestos bodies (coated asbestos fibers) were found in Veronica’s lung tissue. A normal range for a city dweller would be 0-20 asbestos bodies per gram. By Scanning Electron Microscope, an additional 24,900 coated asbestos fibers and 40,000 uncoated asbestos fibers were found.
The tissue asbestos content in Veronica O’Shea’s case was equivalent to a heavy occupational exposure to asbestos.
1972 Pittsburgh Corning Brochure
This photograph was taken from a 1972 Pittsburgh Corning brochure and shows two Asbestos Workers applying Unibestos around a 15-inch main steam pipe in a powerhouse. The caption below the picture states that Unibestos was specified to be used for 12 miles of high-temperature pipes in the plant.
The Pittsburgh Corning brochure shows workers without any mask or respirator as the approved way of working with their asbestos products. Each piece would have to be cut and fabricated, with the inside of the insulation gouged out by hand tools so that they would fit over welds on the pipe made by the Pipefitters. Note that the worker’s shoes and the board beneath the insulated pipe are covered with visible asbestos dust. Unsuspecting workers received toxic levels of asbestos exposure that were often invisible to the naked eye.
1972 Unibestos Brochure Cover:
no mask or respirator shown
This photograph is from the front cover of a 1972 Pittsburgh Corning product brochure for Unibestos. Note that the worker is applying asbestos without any mask or respirator. The photograph shows how workers would have to individually cut or “miter” around pipe bends, creating toxic levels of asbestos exposure from the ensuing dust.
Asbestos Manufacturers from the 1930s through the 1970s continually reinforced through literature and photographs that their products were safe, even though their medical teams knew that asbestos was deadly.
Asbestos Fibers Found in Lung Cancer Tissue
This trial exhibit was used in the case of Jim Stewart, a Chicago Asbestos Worker who developed asbestos-induced lung cancer. This is a photograph of Jim’s actual lung tissue taken from a light microscope. You can see the “Ferruginous Bodies,” which are coated asbestos fibers that were found throughout Jim’s lungs. These coated asbestos fibers are in close proximity to the cancer cells and are in close proximity to the fibrosis or scarring in his lungs from asbestos exposure. This scarring or fibrosis of the inside of the lung is called “asbestosis.”
This photograph conclusively proved that the lung cancer was caused by Jim’s occupational exposure to asbestos.
Commonwealth Edison Bulletin:
Will County Power Plant
Everything white in this photograph is asbestos. The arrows point to open boxes of asbestos pipe-covering.
Tons of asbestos cover the steam pipes connecting the high- and low-pressure turbines at this Commonwealth Edison powerhouse in Chicago.
In total, more than 100 boxcars of asbestos insulation would go into each unit of a Commonwealth Edison powerhouse. Dust would contaminate every section of the site and would expose unsuspecting workers working on mechanical equipment such as turbines, valves, heat exchangers, boilers and pumps.
116,000 Asbestos Bodies Per Gram Of Lung Tissue
This Chicago Asbestos Worker’ s lung tissue contained 116,000 asbestos bodies (coated asbestos fibers) per gram in his right lower lobe. A gram of lung tissue is small, about the size of a sewing thimble.
A normal range for an urban dweller in the U.S. would be in the range of 0 to 20 asbestos bodies per gram.
This trial exhibit was used to show the magnitude of this insulator’s exposure to asbestos, which caused his lung cancer.
Hugh E. Mulligan’s Summer Interns – 1929
Hugh Mulligan was head of the Chicago Asbestos Workers Union from the 1920s to the 1970s. He was a contemporary of Knute Rockne, Notre Dame’s legendary football coach. During the heart of the Depression, and later, he would give summer construction jobs to Rockne’s gridders.
Pictured here at a Mayslake retreat during the summer of 1929 are five of Mulligan’s ‘Summer Interns.’
Pictured (left to right) are: Back Row, Larry “Moon” Mullins, Joe Savoldi, Hugh Mulligan, Jack Cannon. Front Row, Glenn “Judge” Carberry, Marchy Schwartz.
Four months later, these players went on to win the 1929 National Championship of College Football.
Owens Corning Asbestos Brochure
This photograph was taken from a 1956 Owens Corning “Kaylo” product brochure and shows two insulators covering a large steam pipe with asbestos pipe covering.
Although industry officials knew that asbestos could cause asbestosis and lung cancer, the brochure said that this product was “non-irritating, non-toxic” and that it “contribute[s] to worker well being.”
The workers pictured in the brochure have no mask or respirator - - reinforcing visually that these products were “safe” to work with. Note the asbestos dust covering their hats.