Research shows that short-term exposure to asbestos has caused mesothelioma in people who were exposed at work and from secondhand exposure. Short-term exposure has also caused mesothelioma among people who lived near natural asbestos deposits. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they cause scarring and inflammation, which can develop into a mesothelioma tumor.
Research has shown that 80% of all cases of mesothelioma are caused by known exposure to asbestos. If you inhale the fibers for long periods of time, you increase your risk of diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. This is because cigarette smoke irritates the airways. This makes it more difficult for the lungs to remove asbestos fibers.
The main risk factor for pleural mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. In fact, most cases of pleural mesothelioma have been linked to high levels of exposure to asbestos, usually in the workplace. Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of pleural mesothelioma. About 8 out of 10 people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they travel to the ends of the small airways and reach the pleura, where they can cause inflammation and scarring. This can damage the cells' DNA and cause changes that cause uncontrolled cell growth. If ingested, these fibers can reach the abdominal lining, where they may play a role in causing peritoneal mesothelioma. However, most people exposed to asbestos, even in large numbers, do not get mesothelioma.
If you have been exposed to asbestos during your work, talk to your healthcare provider. Asbestos can cause several health conditions, including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare cancer. You may not have symptoms for decades after exposure. Even if you're feeling well, talk to a provider so you can take steps to protect yourself and reduce your health risks.
If you have an asbestos-related condition, your healthcare provider will help you get the treatment you need. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is another federal agency that cares about exposure to asbestos in the workplace. Demolition workers, drywall removers, asbestos removal workers, firefighters, and automobile workers may also be exposed to asbestos fibers. Records show that many employers were aware of the hazards of exposure, but continued to use asbestos because it was cheap.
Because asbestos-related diseases affect the lungs, smoking increases the risk of lung cancer in people who have been exposed to asbestos. People at risk of exposure to asbestos in the workplace include some miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, railway and automotive workers, shipbuilders, gas mask manufacturers, plumbers and construction workers. You can find more information about asbestos on the OSHA Asbestos page, which links to information about asbestos in the workplace, including what OSHA standards apply, asbestos hazards, asbestos exposure assessment, and controls used to protect workers. There is a dose-response relationship between asbestos and the development of mesothelioma, which means that the risk of getting cancer increases with each exposure.
In June 2000, CPSC concluded that the risk of exposure of children to asbestos fibers in colored pencils was extremely low. Mesothelioma has also been reported in people without occupational exposure to asbestos living near asbestos mines (1.After you have experienced exposure to asbestos, it is important to talk to your family doctor and perform frequent checkups). Workers who are concerned about exposure to asbestos in the workplace should discuss the situation with other employees, their employee health and safety representative and their employers. The risk of developing mesothelioma is closely related to the amount of asbestos a person is exposed to and the duration of exposure.
It is important to note that these procedures cannot determine how much asbestos a person may have been exposed to or whether the disease will develop. Another EPA resource that may be of interest is the brochure titled Current Best Practices for Preventing Exposure to Asbestos among Brake and Clutch Repair Workers. The EPA also established regulations requiring school systems to inspect buildings for damaged asbestos and to eliminate or reduce occupant exposure to asbestos by removing or wrapping asbestos (. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos while doing certain manual labor or serving in the military.