Dangerous exposure to asbestos can result in mesothelioma – a fatal type of cancer which forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. There are a few famous asbestos related deaths due to this disease. Asbestos was commonly used until 1999. It is therefore important to be aware of its implications and raise awareness of the associated dangers.

Here are 3 famous asbestos related deaths.

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen was one of America’s biggest actors in the 1960s and 1970s, known for films such as The Great Escape, Papillon and The Magnificent Seven. At one point, he was the highest paid movie star in the world. However, he had a military background. In 1979, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma and expected the illness was a direct result of removing asbestos lagging from pipes while he was in the Marines. This is unsurprising, as often those in the military were faced with mass asbestos exposure.

Paul Gleason

Paul Gleason was another American actor who died from mesothelioma. Until his death in 2006, he was known for his roles in television and films such as The Breakfast Club and Die Hard. Prior to his successful acting life, his aspiration was to become a professional baseball player. He had even signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians and played in two minor seasons. Connections made through baseball got him a guest spot on sitcom Ozzie and Harriet, opening him up to the prospect of an acting career. In 2006, he passed due to asbestos exposure. It was thought this was a result of working on building sites for his father as a teenager.

George Hunt

In the UK, one of the most famous asbestos related deaths is that of George Hunt. Hunt was a football player for Swindon Town. Before and after his career in football, he worked for the Great Western Railway Works. In Swindon at the time, asbestos was very prevalent and dangerous in the railways and factories. As a result of working in this environment, he contracted mesothelioma in the abdomen. The disease got the nickname ‘The Swindon Disease’ due to the dramatic number of people who died from exposure to asbestos.

How to Protect Yourself from Asbestos Exposure

As demonstrated by these unfortunate asbestos related deaths, it is of utmost importance to protect yourself from asbestos exposure. If you suspect asbestos in a property you own, it is important to leave it alone. Allow professionals to deal with the material. It will only cause danger if it is damaged or disturbed. An asbestos survey will help you understand the extent of asbestos. It will then give recommendations for dealing with the affected areas going forward. An asbestos survey may also be required by law in many properties. Once this has been conducted, you may need to employ a team of trained specialists to remove the asbestos.


If you would like to know more about asbestos surveys and safely dealing with asbestos, please do get in touch with us at South East Asbestos Surveys Ltd.