Steve McQueen's widow will ask Congress to ban asbestos, prevent more mesothelioma casesActor Steve McQueen was an avid racer, famous for doing many of his own car and motorcycle stunts. Yet this passion may have contributed to his untimely death, at age 50, from malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). (The New York Times notes that McQueen was exposed to asbestos as a Marine pipe-lagger, and he almost certainly came into contact with the fiber through his fireproof racing suits.)
Now, More than 30 years after his death, the actor's widow, Barbara Minty McQueen, will speak before Congress about the dangers of asbestos exposure and the necessity of banning the mineral outright.
On MPM: 'It robbed me of my life and future'
Mrs. McQueen will deliver a speech on July 24, during a U.S. House of Representatives staff briefing titled Asbestos: Environmental and Occupational Exposure Continues.
She has emphasized repeatedly that asbestos exposure - and, by extension, mesothelioma - are preventable. Mrs. McQueen is a formidable opponent of asbestos use, and she makes no bones about the toll MPM takes on thousands of Americans each year.
"Mesothelioma is a horrible disease. It robbed me of my life and future with Steve and took away an icon beloved by millions around the world," she recently stated. "By coming to Washington, D.C., I want to bring awareness that asbestos is still legal in the U.S. and continues to kill. It can kill a movie star, a musician or a construction worker. It takes no prisoners."
Mrs. McQueen added that many people mistakenly believe asbestos to be banned in the U.S., rather than simply restricted. She stated that this misunderstanding may be sustaining asbestos use generally, and she plans to ask the president and Congress to "get off the bench, get in the game, and immediately ban the importation and use of asbestos."
McQueen's tragic death from MPM
Years after his asbestos exposure, Steve McQueen developed a chronic cough at age 48. Relatively soon thereafter, his physicians diagnosed him with MPM. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment did little to slow the disease, and, in a last-ditch effort to regain his health, McQueen tried a pseudoscientific alternative regimen in Mexico, recommended by a blacklisted dentist.
He died two years after his diagnosis, following surgery to remove thoracic tumors, the Times states. Now, three decades after his death, the actor's widow wants the federal government to protect innocent Americans from having to go through similarly painful ordeals.
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Asbestos exposure led to death of Merchant Navy man, http://www.getbracknell.co.uk/news/s/2123312_former_merchant_navy_man_died_from_mesothelioma_after_inhaling_asbestos_fibres, 11/5/12
Siblings honor father-son mesothelioma victims, http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/community/taking-to-skies-for-dad-and-brother-1-5064192, 10/31/12
Former students, colleagues rally around coach who has mesothelioma, http://hinsdale.suntimes.com/sports/15657700-419/badminton-legend-battling-cancer.html, 10/23/12
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Mesothelioma fundraiser celebrates third year, http://www.wowktv.com/story/19600262/putnam-woman-organizes-fundraiser-in-memory-of-father, 9/24/12
Charity 5k walk/run to raise money for mesothelioma research, http://www.theday.com/article/20120918/NWS01/120919658/1019&town=, 9/21/12
Family of five sisters to raise funds for mesothelioma charity, http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Sisters-plan-family-fun-day-memory-father/story-16840190-detail/story.html, 9/20/12