Medical professionals agree that mesothelioma and asbestos go hand-in-hand. Asbestos is not manmade and actually occurs naturally as a mineral that has amazing heat and fire resistant characteristics. These properties made it valuable as an insulation material. Indistinguishable is the literal translation of the word asbestos. Asbestos literally translates to mean “indistinguishable” from its origin in the Greek language. Dating back to ancient times in Greece, asbestos was used in building materials and even in fabrics for clothing. There are many nicknames in many languages for the material such as, “the magic dust”, “white gold”, “the magic mineral” and most important, “the killer dust.”
Evidence has been shown that asbestos was used thousands of years ago, but it was not industrialized until the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Mesothelioma and asbestos became linked as asbestos on navy ships, chemical plants, factories, railroads and cars sought the use of asbestos products. These materials later cross the threshold to the construction industry, predominantly as insulation material, but not completely. Products manufactured with asbestos were also used in cement, shingles used on houses, tiles used for flooring and in siding.
It wasn’t until the 1970s when research was published designating a causal link between mesothelioma and asbestos. Because of these findings, the federal government banned the use of the carcinogenic fiber. Later, it was exposed that asbestos manufacturers were well aware that the material caused mesothelioma cancer since the 1940s and deceptively conspired to maintain silence about this information.
Exposure to the microfiber airborne asbestos particles lends itself to the highest risk for developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses. Many workers experienced prolonged asbestos exposure over a period of decades working within the same company and careers. This exposure is highly associated with high rates of mesothelioma. Workers from particular professions presenting high risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses include demolition workers, ship builders, HVAC techs, roof, drywall and carpet removers and even fire fighters.
A majority of the time, mesothelioma is the result from occupational asbestos exposure. But research has shown that secondhand exposure to asbestos by people who came in direct contact with someone working with the fibers has been proven to also lead to cancer and other diseases. Exposed workers brought it home to their families in their clothing, in their hair and even on their shoes. Spouses have been shown to have inhaled asbestos fibers from washing their husband’s laundry and then, on their own, developed mesothelioma. Asbestos is the culprit in both cases.
Due to its popularity as a building material, many homes constructed prior to the 1970’s contain asbestos. Homeowners should be weary of performing any renovations to their home if they suspect there may be asbestos present. Be sure to hire an expert or a certified asbestos removal company to investigate that possibility and remove it safely.