Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma

There is only one known cause of the deadly cancer known as mesothelioma: exposure to asbestos. Exposure to asbestos occurs when people inhale asbestos fibers. No level of exposure to asbestos is completely safe.

Asbestos was used in North American industries and the military until the 1970s. For years, workers and military members topped the list of people at risk for exposure to asbestos.

Most mesothelioma victims are men, because they were more likely than women to be regularly exposed to asbestos through military service, manufacturing, shipyards and chemical plants.

Even today, people involved in home renovations can get sick because many building materials produced until the 1970s contained asbestos. Furthermore, smokers who have come in contact with asbestos are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer.

Use of Asbestos

Asbestos had a wide range of commercial uses because of its resistance to heat and its durability, and because it does not conduct electricity. It can be separated into thin, yet strong threads that have been used in products from clothing to building materials.

Now that it is a recognized carcinogen, many states including South Carolina have regulations for the handling and removal of asbestos. Asbestos can still be found in the insulation and roofing materials of many older homes, and remodeling projects may disturb it. Asbestos can be found at some construction sites, particularly those that require workers to deal with old boilers and piping insulation.

Delayed Symptoms

One of the biggest challenges of mesothelioma is the length of time between exposure to asbestos and the appearance of disease symptoms. A person who has been exposed to asbestos may not develop symptoms of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease until 30 to 50 years after the fact. Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, painful coughing and weight loss. Often, a patient’s diagnosis isn’t confirmed until the disease is advanced, when it is more difficult to treat effectively.

Because it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact time of exposure to this dangerous mineral, it is critical to be alert to the presence of asbestos in your life. Having your home professionally inspected and researching your workplace’s asbestos history can provide you with important knowledge and help lower your risk for developing this kind of cancer.

Be On Guard

With all of the facts we now know about asbestos, the United States still hasn’t officially banned this hazardous mineral. While there are limits in place, the possibility of exposure cannot be ignored.

Because there is no entirely safe level of asbestos exposure, it is essential to stay informed about this mineral. Keep in mind that exposure to asbestos can be dangerous for you and your family, and seek medical attention for yourself or any member of your family who develops symptoms of disease.


About the Author