The end of the year and start of the new year are a time for list making. As we welcome 2012, here is a timeless list of important facts about asbestos and mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos:
- When a person inhales asbestos fibers, most of the fibers are expelled, but some can penetrate deep into the lung and remain lodged there for a lifetime. Asbestos fibers can cause inflammation and scarring, which can affect breathing and gradually lead to disease.
- People are more likely to experience asbestos-related disorders when they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos, are exposed for longer periods of time or are exposed more often.
- There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs due to retained asbestosis fibers, as well as malignant diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.
- The health effects of asbestos exposure may continue to progress even after a person is no longer exposed to asbestos.
- Smoking together with exposure to asbestos greatly increases the likelihood of lung cancer.
- Fluid around the lungs (known as pleural effusion) and changes in the lining of the lung such as thickening, plaques and calcification may be early indicators of past asbestos exposure. Pleural effusions may be an early symptoms of mesothelioma.
- Most cases of asbestos are diagnosed 30 years or more after a worker was first exposed to asbestos. In some cases, asbestos disease appears after 40 or 50 years.
- Asbestos-related disease has been diagnosed in asbestos workers, family members, veterans and in particular Navy veterans, people who lived near a factory that used asbestos-containing materials and many trades workers who were exposed to asbestos dust. Many older buildings in New York City contain asbestos building materials and the asbestos may be released into the air if the asbestos is disturbed.
- Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the U.S. The number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma has been increasing in recent decades.
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