Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma worked at jobs where they were exposed to asbestos. Exposure for as few as one or two months can lead to mesothelioma 10 to 50 years later. The long latency period means that people exposed to asbestos in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s may now be seeing symptoms and are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Since the late 1800’s asbestos has been mined and used commercially in the United States. Initially the risk associated with asbestos was unknown. An increased risk of disease from asbestos was later revealed among workers in the building, construction, shipbuilding, railroad and automotive industries. It’s important to realize that any exposure to asbestos increases your chance of developing mesothelioma.
One risk factor to consider is the concentration of asbestos in the air you breathed; another risk factor is the duration of all exposures. The combination of concentration and duration increases your risk of contracting asbestos related diseases including mesothelioma. Contraction of the disease also depends on a your own susceptibility to asbestos. There is also evidence that family members living with asbestos workers have developed asbestos related diseases by inhaling dust from workers clothes or body.
Causes of Mesothelioma
Asbestos becomes harmful when fibers are released into the air and then inhaled. After fibers are breathed in they travel to the ends of small air passages and reach the pleura which can cause damage to mesothelial cells. If swallowed, the fibers can reach the abdominal cavity which can cause peritoneal mesothelioma.