Most cases of asbestos-induced mesothelioma occur in individuals who worked extensively with asbestos, such as construction workers, but evidence has shown that family members of individuals exposed to asbestos while working are also at risk for developing this form of cancer . Asbestos fibers that remain on the skin, hair, and clothing of workers can be breathed in by family members. In addition, people whose homes are located near asbestos mines are often diagnosed with mesothelioma .
Navy veterans have an especially high risk of developing mesothelioma due to the extensive use of asbestos on submarines and ships . Shipbuilders also experienced large amounts of exposure as asbestos was used in numerous parts of the ships including the boiler, navigation, and engine rooms, the storage areas, sleeping quarters, and even the cafeterias. Furthermore, all of the equipment in the ships were lined with asbestos because of the heat resistant properties.
The September 11th attacks in 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York also exposed large numbers of people to asbestos . The construction of the North Tower began before 1970 and the majority of the steel structure was sprayed with asbestos. The South Tower was built after 1970 and a non-asbestos coating was sprayed onto the steel structure, but it has been suggested that the elevator shafts in each tower contained asbestos. Consequently, when the towers were destroyed as much as 400 tons of asbestos was released into the air.
Additional factors related to asbestos exposure also influence whether or not mesothelioma will develop. These include: the amount of asbestos fibers an individual was exposed to, how long an individual was exposed to asbestos, the type of asbestos fiber, and the presence of other forms of lung disease [1, 4]. There are six types of asbestos and although each type is dangerous, different health risks are associated with the different forms of asbestos. In regard to the development of mesothelioma, evidence suggests that amphibole asbestos fibers, which have a long, durable shape, are much more hazardous and remain in the lungs longer than chrysotile fibers, which are curly [1, 4].Smoking can also further complicate the health problems that are associated with asbestos exposure [2, 4].
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- Goswami E, Craven V, Dahlstrom DL, Alexander D, Mowat F. (2013). Domestic asbestos exposure: a review of epidemiologic and exposure data.Int J Environ Res Public Health, 10(11):5629-5670. Retrieved from http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/11/5629
- War Related Illness & Injury Study Center (2013). Exposure to asbestos: A resource for veterans, service members, and their families.Department of Veterans Affairs,East Orange, NJ. Retrieved from http://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/education/factsheets/asbestos-exposure.pdf
- Wu M, Gordon RE, Herbert R, Padilla M, Moline J, Mendelson D, Litle V, Travis WD, Gil J. (2010). Case report: Lung disease in World Trade Center responders exposed to dust and smoke: carbon nanotubes found in the lungs of World Trade Center patients and dust samples.Environ Health Perspect, 118(4):499-504. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2854726/
- Goodman JE, Peterson MK, Bailey LA, Kerper LE, Dodge DG. (2014). Electricians’ chrysotileasbestos exposure from electrical products and risks of mesothelioma and lung cancer. RegulToxicolPharmacol, 68(1):8-15. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24189076