Industry News

Warren Zevon and Steve McQueen

Asbestos Poisoning Has Claimed Too Many Lives

… Don’t Let It Claim Yours, Or Those Of Your Family

Regular readers of this space know that we try to lighten the mood around a very serious and scary topic, and that’s asbestos contamination.

This month, though, we’re gonna pull back on the uproarious laughter long enough to pay tribute to two legendary performing artists who were killed – slowly and painfully – by asbestos.

You’ve heard their names, but you probably didn’t know how they died at such young ages.

Warren Zevon, Songwriter And Musician (1947-2003)

Yes, you probably remember Zevon best as the recording artist who gave us Werewolves of London, a fantastic pop song, back in the ‘70s. 

The story of his early demise is a sad one – he was only 56 when pleural mesothelioma (caused by asbestos) claimed him – but it’s a stark reminder that you never know when asbestos might be coming to get you.

You see, Warren Zevon never worked anywhere near asbestos, which is how most people end up contracting this deadly, incurable disease.

Warren’s son, Jordan, is an outspoken advocate in support of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.  After his dad’s death in 2003, Jordan offered some speculation that his dad may have been poisoned by asbestos as a boy, while spending carefree hours playing in the attic of his father’s Arizona carpet store.

Arizona’s a dusty place, and carpet can contain asbestos (even today)… so it’s plausible that young Warren inhaled enough asbestos in that attic to have his lungs slowly torn up over the rest of his life.  But the fact is that nobody could’ve foreseen that, and nobody really knows how he got mesothelioma.

We only know that he did get it, and that he’s gone.  Way too soon.

Steve McQueen, Actor And Film Star (1930-1980)

Did you know Steve McQueen, star of such legendary movies as The Great Escape, Bullitt, and Papillon, was killed by asbestos?

A lot of people don’t know that.

Unlike Warren Zevon, McQueen “came by it honestly,” meaning that he contracted mesothelioma the way many people in the World War II era did: Through his military service.

Zevon never worked with asbestos; McQueen worked almost exclusively with the nasty stuff while he was in the Navy, where his job was to strip asbestos off various pipes on ships.

To pile on, so to speak, McQueen had actually worked in the construction industry before his military service, and was undoubtedly exposed to asbestos in that job, too.

It’s Ugly.  Not A Laughing Matter.

The dangers of inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers was not widely known in the 1940s and 1950s.   Some people knew it could kill you, but that information wasn’t as widely disseminated as was asbestos itself.

Many people still aren’t aware of the ugly truth regarding asbestos.  You can’t make things with it in the U.S., but you can import asbestos-laden stuff from other countries, and because it’s cheap to work with, it’s still used in proliferation and imported to our country – tons and tons of it – every year.

It’s in everything from your plumbing insulation to your teenage daughter’s faux jewelry, and as long as it stays undisturbed as a component of those products, it isn’t dangerous.  But asbestos can be broken up into deadly microscopic particles by anything from a flooded basement to a botched DIY project.

And if it is, and if you inhale enough of it, well… say hi to Warren and Steve for us.

Get your place professionally tested.  If you have an asbestos question, give us a call.