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Mesothelioma and asbestos exposure

One of the most common silicate minerals is certainly asbestos, whose fibers are famous for their resistant to heat and fire, durability and strength. It is well-known that asbestos was used in construction of many buildings as an insulating material and even in creation of clothes. It can be explained by the fact that asbestos fibers are thin, flexible and long. But despite these properties, asbestos exposure is extremely dangerous for health. Buildings and products that were made several decades ago still contain asbestos. One can still find asbestos-containing materials in old industrial facilities, ships and many other products. The asbestos exposure results in the fact that the fibers become airborne and the inhalation of them leads to malignant mesothelioma.

Asbestos was discovered somewhere in late 1800 and since that time the usage if it increased greatly, especially during the World War II. That is why millions of American workers were affected by asbestos. In the beginning nobody knew that asbestos exposure is harmful for health. But later it was found out that the inhalation of asbestos dust can somehow be the reason of developing mesothelioma. This supposition was made after that it was found out that high-risk group includes people who work in asbestos mines, shipyard workers, producers of asbestos products etc. Today the usage of asbestos is restricted and there is a limit of acceptable levels of asbestos exposure that was set by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

It goes without saying that the heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time the more the probability that the risk of asbestos-related disease will increase. In some cases only brief exposures is enough to cause mesothelioma. However heavy exposure of asbestos doesn't always cause asbestos-related diseases.

It was also shown that families of asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. Probably the reason of this risk is the inhalation of the asbestos dust from clothing and hair of asbestos workers. To prevent the exposure of asbestos fibers, asbestos workers should shower and change their clothing before leaving the workplace.

A group of fibrous silicate minerals, which asbestos belongs to, consists of two mineralogic groups: amphiboles and serpentines. Amphiboles(eg, crocidolite and amosite) is the main and well-studied carcinogen. Also there are several specific medical issues regarding the carcinogenicity of asbestos fibers.

There are no exact evidence that chrysotile causes malignant mesothelioma (MM). A lot of questions still remain unanswered. Nobody knows the specific carcinogenic thresholds for amphiboles and chrysotile. Also it is essential to define occupations that are at risk to develop MM as a result of asbestos exposure. Still the role of chrysotile in the development of peritoneal MM is not known. And the last but not the list, nobody knows how to determine the criteria that should be used to accept causation in household exposure cases and others.

It is surprisingly but the causation criteria that is accepted in U.S. courts is flexible, so it opens a wide possibility for so called medical "experts" to interpret the results according to their interests. As soon as more and more individuals are claiming causation of MM by asbestos exposure, it is necessary to develop more specific causation guidelines. The new direction of studies, teaching and the practice that is called evidence-based medicine has been used as a process of reviewing of the relevant articles to assess their scientific validity and development of guidelines.

Most insulation materials before the mid-1970s contained asbestos. Many other construction materials also contained asbestos. Some of the most common products were:

  • Insulation on pipes
  • Boiler insulation
  • Insulating cements, plasters, and joint compounds that came in powder form and created a lot of dust before being completely mixed with water.
  • Fireproofing spray
  • Firebrick and gunnite used for internal insulation of furnaces, boilers, and other vessels
  • Roof, floor, and ceiling tiles.
  • Transite siding
  • Brakes and clutches
  • Asbestos cement sheets or pipe products, asbestos cloth, products containing asbestos paper, and asbestos textile products, such as packing components.
  • Insulating block, thermal seals, refractory and boiler insulation materials, packing materials, fireproofing spray, gaskets, joint compound, duct insulation for heating.
  • Vinyl floor tile and ceiling tile.
  • Adhesives, mastics, and coatings.
  • Insulated electrical wire and panels, roofing materials, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
  • Friction products, brake linings for commercial and industrial purposes such as automobiles, railroad cars, and airplanes.
  • Heat and electrical wire insulation, industrial filters for beverages, small appliance components, and underlying material for sheet flooring.
  • Heat- and fire-resistant clothing, fireproof draperies.

To clear up the rights you have regarding asbestos exposure, you can contact an Asbestos Lawyer.

As it was said earlier the main cause of developing of this extremely dangerous form of lung cancer called Mesothelioma is inhalation of small airborne asbestos particles - usually during the manufacturing process. 75% of all cases of mesothelioma are connected with asbestos exposure.

Asbestos workers who dealt with asbestos during or before 1970s inhaled harmful asbestos fibers that penetrated deep within the layers of the lungs. There is no system in body to remove the fibers, which in the end cause an inflammatory condition in the lungs (asbestosis). And this particular condition often cause a malignant (cancerous) tumor that is usually fatal to patients.

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