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ADAO's March 29 Conference Unites Survivors, Families and Physicians
Date:3/14/2008

fellow members of United Steel Workers Union Local 13702, which includes cemetery workers.

Concerned with the potential health hazards from working in a cemetery and crematorium, Stevens worked closely with Dr. Harbut and former Michigan Governor James Blanchard to authorize the Hepatitis B vaccine for all cemetery workers, funeral home staff, and public safety employees.

About 15 years ago, Stevens was experiencing severe breathing problems and at times he would gasp for air. He was also having migraine headaches and sinus problems. He attributed the symptoms to Michigan's changing weather. Once again, he decided to see Dr. Harbut.

After a thorough exam, it was determined that Stevens had environmental asthma and the spots on his lungs were caused from exposure to asbestos and other environmental hazardous chemicals related to his time in the service and his work at the crematorium. Stevens recapped his years in the service, spending time on naval ships and serving in Vietnam.

"I have flashbacks of being on the naval ship at sea, lying in my bed and looking at the pipes above my head," Stevens said. "There were lots of pipes on the ship. There was a crystal-like dust coming down from the pipes that would sparkle in the light. The dust would fall on us. I never dreamt that was asbestos and I had no idea the damage it could cause.

"I was happy to be serving my country. I didn't even wait to be drafted -- I enlisted," Stevens stated with conviction. "There are probably a lot of people out there who have been exposed to asbestos and don't know it. I bury veterans all the time. I can't help but wonder how many of them would still be here if they knew about asbestos screening and where to go to get help."

Stevens has frequent check-ups and is monitored closely.

"Dr. Harbut gave me my life back. My wish is that everyone would have access to screenings and the proper medical care. No one should have to worry a
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SOURCE Karmanos Cancer Institute
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