2022

"They inhaled asbestos for decades on the job. Now, workers break their silence"


NPR interviewed Dr. Rachael Jones, chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, about environmental health practices.

Henry Saenz remembers when he first learned what even the tiniest bit of asbestos could do to his body. He was working at a chemical plant where employees used the mineral to make chlorine, and his coworkers warned him about what could happen each time he took a breath: Tiny fibers, invisible to the eye, could enter his nose and mouth and settle into his lungs, his abdomen, the lining of his heart.

They could linger there for decades. Then, one day, he might develop asbestosis, a chronic disease that makes the lungs harden, or mesothelioma, a vicious cancer that ends the lives of most who have it within a few years.

By then, in the early 1990s, the dangers of asbestos were already irrefutable. The United States had prohibited its use in pipe insulation and branded it so risky that remediators had to wear hazmat suits to remove it. But unlike dozens of other countries that banned the potent carcinogen outright, the United States never did.

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Faculty Referenced by this Article

Rachael Jones
Rachael Jones
Environmental Health Sciences
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Dr. Pouran D. Faghri
Pouran D. Faghri
Environmental Health Sciences
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Dr. Oliver Hankinson
Oliver Hankinson

Dr. Hankinson is a Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and of EHS, and Chair of the Molecular Toxicology IDP

Environmental Health Sciences
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Niklas Krause
Environmental Health Sciences Epidemiology
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Dr. Yifang Zhu
Yifang Zhu
Environmental Health Sciences
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Richard Ambrose
Richard Ambrose
Environmental Health Sciences
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Dr. Candace Tsai
Candace Tsai

Associate Professor for Industrial Hygiene and Environmental Health Sciences

Environmental Health Sciences
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Dr. Shane Que Hee
Shane Que Hee

Industrial Hygiene & Analytical Chemistry

Environmental Health Sciences
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Dr. Lara Cushing
Lara Cushing
Environmental Health Sciences
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Arabzadah, Hamid
Hamid Arabzadeh
Environmental Health Sciences
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Jian Li
Jian Li
Environmental Health Sciences Epidemiology
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Dr. Wendie Robbins
Wendie Robbins
Environmental Health Sciences
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Dr. Beate Ritz
Beate Ritz
Environmental Health Sciences Epidemiology
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