Famous People Who Died From Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in building materials and other products because of its durability and resistance to heat and fire. However, there has been records of asbestos death due to exposure to asbestos fibers. When hazardous fibers are inhaled during asbestos exposure, they can become lodged in the lungs, and they can have serious health consequences.  It can lead to serious respiratory problems, including asbestosis (a chronic lung disease), lung cancer, and mesothelioma (rare cancer that affects the lining of the chest and abdomen). Asbestos can also cause other types of cancer, such as ovarian cancer and laryngeal cancer.

When it comes to the issue of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, note that it can affect any class of people, including the famous; there is no discrimination. Many of the affected people were exposed at their workplace and didn’t find out about it years later when they were diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Here is a list of some famous asbestos death that has been recorded. This list cuts across actors, a pro football player, an Olympic wrestler, and a singer/songwriter.

Merlin Olsen

Merlin Olsen is recognized as one of the greatest tackles in the history of the NFL, apart from this, he is also a longtime NBC pro football broadcaster. Olsen also had an acting career that included his own series, Father Murphy, and his role as Jonathan Garvey made him a beloved member of the Little House on the Prairie cast.

His asbestos exposure began when he took a summer job on a construction site at age 11 and continued with a lifetime of exposure, including the materials used on Hollywood sets. Olsen was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2009 and shortly after, in March 2010 at the age of 69 he passed away.

Christie Hennessy

Christie was an Irish folk singer and songwriter. He is best known for his songs “All the Lies that You Told Me,” “Roll Back the Clouds,” and “Don’t Forget Your Shovel”. The amazing singer was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in May 2007, and died at the age of 62, just 7 months later. Hennessy’s exposure to asbestos was the tragic result of decades of his work as a decorator and painter in London, including rubbing down asbestos.

Terry McCann

Terry was a wrestling gold medalist in the 1969 Olympics. While training for the Olympics, he spent a few weeks working in a nearby oil refinery in Oklahoma. Terry McCann’s story is evidence that even minimal, brief exposure to asbestos is deadly. His diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma came in the spring of 2005, and he passed away a year later at the age of 72.

Elmo Zumwalt

Elmo Zumwalt was a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, and he went on to become the youngest man to serve as the US Chief of Naval Operations.

Along with many other members of the US Navy, Zumwalt developed mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos while aboard U.S. naval ships. He was diagnosed in July 1999, and he died on January 2, 2000, at 79 years of age.

Steve McQueen (King of Cool)

Steve McQueen was one of Hollywood’s leading men of the 60s and 70s and became famous for his roles in The Towering Inferno, Bullitt, and The Magnificent Seven. McQueen claimed status as the world’s highest-paid movie star in 1974. He is one of the most famous mesothelioma victims, he was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 1979. By October 1980 his cancer was widespread, and he died of heart failure on November 7, 1980, at the age of 50.

Speaking in an interview a few months prior to his death, McQueen stated that his mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure in two different professions. While serving in the United States Marine Corps, he recounted removing asbestos from the pipes of the engine room of a ship. He also cited his exposure to inhaling asbestos fibers in fire retardant racing gear and the asbestos used in movie set insulation.

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