If you or someone you know has worked with asbestos, you or they are subject to increased risk of contracting two principal types of cancer: cancer of the lung tissue and mesothelioma (see mesothelioma). Usually these maladies appear some years after exposure to asbestos. The following information may be useful to you in assessing your risk.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is comprised of a collection of naturally occurring minerals which combine into fibrous material that is heat and fire resistant. There are three kinds of asbestos: blue, brown and white. Blue and brown asbestos have been connected with Mesothelioma. Historically, asbestos was used widely in construction, ship building and household appliances. It can be found in old cement, roof shingles, flooring products, brake linings, textiles, and insulation. When disturbed, especially in the manufacturing process, small particles can end up airborne, and can be inhaled or swallowed.
Am I at risk?
Most instances of serious asbestos exposure are found in persons who worked in manufacturing or construction using asbestos or asbestos products. Other occupations at risk include shipyard workers, those who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, and those who worked with ductwork.
Persons living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. This is thought to be the result of exposure to asbestos dust brought home from the workplace on the hair and clothing of the worker. Today, workers are required to take protective measures to avoid spreading asbestos particles.
Asbestos was prevalent in the years after the Second World War and since the early 1940s, millions of workers have been exposed to asbestos.