When asbestos fibers from commercial products, old buildings, and industrial materials become airborne, they place you at risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure can lead to a rare type of cancer known as mesothelioma. Around 3,300 new mesothelioma cases occur each year from asbestos exposure.
In this article, we will answer the question, “how much asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma?”
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos consists of six naturally occurring minerals found in rocks and soil. These fibers are resistant to heat, corrosion, and electricity. Until the 1980s, asbestos was widely used in commercial products to strengthen cloth, cement, plastic, and other materials.
Asbestos exposure is highly toxic and can lead to cancer and other ailments. While asbestos-containing products are still legal to make, process, and distribute, their manufacturing has dropped considerably.
How and Where Can You Be Exposed to Asbestos
Asbestos exposure can occur almost anywhere. The chances of getting mesothelioma from asbestos exposure can increase when using various industrial, commercial, and domestic products. Asbestos fibers release into the air when products containing asbestos become disturbed.
Airborne asbestos fibers usually settle within 48 to 72 hours in an undisturbed environment. People nearby may be at risk of ingesting or inhaling the toxic mineral dust. Symptoms of asbestos exposure include shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.
Where Does Asbestos Exposure Occur?
Asbestos exposure can happen at home, school, and workplaces. However, asbestos exposure most frequently occurs on the job. Renovating a house without following safety protocols may expose individuals to asbestos fibers.
Secondhand asbestos exposure through clothing or personal items may affect a worker’s loved ones. Signs of asbestos exposure include a dry cough, a crackling sound when inhaling, and chest pain. The following are some of the most common products that contain asbestos:
- Automotive parts
- Construction materials
How Much Asbestos Exposure Causes Mesothelioma?
Asbestos exposure in any amount remains unsafe. Pleural mesothelioma is the most deadly form of asbestos-related cancer, diagnosed in approximately two to 10% of people who come into contact with asbestos. Scientists have found that asbestos-related mesothelioma manifests 20 to 50 years after exposure.
Risk Factors of Mesothelioma
Many people develop mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, even though they have no known risk factors. Risk factors, such as prolonged asbestos exposure, smoking, and genetics, can increase a person’s chances of developing mesothelioma.
Asbestos exposure is responsible for 70% to 80% of mesothelioma cases. Those who manufacture, work, install, or maintain asbestos-containing products may accidentally breathe or ingest asbestos fibers.
Smoking does not increase the risk of mesothelioma by itself. However, asbestos exposure symptoms, combined with smoking, can increase the risk of certain types of lung cancer. Research shows that asbestos-exposed workers who quit smoking are less likely to develop lung cancer.
Some patients who have had radiation therapy to treat conditions such as lymphoma developed mesothelioma from radiation exposure.
About 1% of mesothelioma patients inherit the disease, usually passed down from the parents to their children. Mutations in a gene known as BAP1 cause mesothelioma.
Types of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma occurs in four types based on where it develops in the body.
Pleural Mesothelioma (Lungs)
Pleural mesothelioma cancer grows in the tissue lining the chest and lungs. A large percentage (80 to 90%) of mesothelioma cases are pleural. Patients with pleural mesothelioma can undergo asbestos exposure treatment, but the average life expectancy is 18 months.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma (Abdomen)
Peritoneal mesothelioma cancer accounts for 15 to 20% of mesothelioma cases. Common symptoms include fluid buildup in the abdomen, swelling, and abdominal pain. Life expectancy can vary from two to six years, depending on the individual.
Pericardial Mesothelioma (Heart)
Pericardial mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the heart. Approximately 1% of all mesothelioma cases have this condition. Patients with pericardium have a low survival rate of six to 12 months.
One percent of all cases of mesothelioma cancer occurs in the testicles. Testicular mesothelioma has a high recurrence rate, with 93% of patients contracting cancer within five years of treatment.
How To Prevent Mesothelioma After Asbestos Exposure
Avoiding exposure to asbestos is the easiest way to prevent mesothelioma. Workers should wear protective equipment if there is a chance of on-the-job exposure. If exposed, seek medical treatment for asbestos exposure to mitigate any health conditions.
Raising awareness and increasing testing for asbestos exposure is important to prevent mesothelioma. Manufacturers should follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for working with asbestos-containing materials. If your workplace poses a health risk from asbestos, speak with your employer about safety protocols and treatment for asbestos exposure.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Asbestos Exposure
Does Everyone Expose To Asbestos Get Mesothelioma?
Not everyone exposed to asbestos ends up with mesothelioma. The chances of getting mesothelioma from asbestos exposure increase when inhaled in large quantities.
How Long Can It Take To Get Mesothelioma After Asbestos Exposure?
Asbestos fibers inhaled or swallowed can irritate the lungs, abdomen, or heart, which may lead to mesothelioma. Most symptoms of asbestos exposure that cause mesothelioma show up 20 to 50 years after exposure.
What Happens if You Breathe in a Little Asbestos?
Breathing in a little bit of asbestos should not be unsafe. However, it’s important to visit a medical professional to perform asbestos exposure testing. An asbestos exposure test can detect exposure to asbestos using X-rays and CT scans.
If you suspect your home or workplace contains asbestos, consult an expert. Experts can test for asbestos exposure to determine if the air poses a health risk. See your doctor immediately if you notice any asbestos exposure symptoms.
Helpful Reading: Asbestos IP