Sunday, October 10, 2010

Asbestos: The Cancer Causing Dust

Mesothelioma is a latent, usually fatal cancer resulting from asbestos exposure. The majority of those exposed were men, working in construction and shipyards from the 1930s through the 1970s. Mesothelioma symptoms typically take time to appear, so these exposed individuals may not notice symptoms for decades following exposure.

Unlike regular dust in the air, asbestos clings to bodily tissues. Pleural malignant mesothelioma is most common, because the fibers or dust are inhaled or swallowed. The microscopic dust particles cannot be eliminated by the lungs and eventually become lodged in the mesothelium, the lining surrounding the lungs and other vital organs.

Peritoneal mesothelioma, affecting the abdominal cavity, is the second most common form of this aggressive cancer. Mesothelioma treatment must be equally forceful.

Although the cancer causing dust can mutate cells that will remain latent for 20 years or more, it is particularly virulent once the cancer cells begin multiplying and dividing. The original cells can divide in numerous sothelioma is a latent, usually fatal cancer resulting from asbestos exposure. The majority of those exposed were men, working in construction and shipyards from the 1930s through the 1970s. Mesothelioma symptoms typically take time to appear, so these exposed individuals may not notice symptoms for decades following exposure.

Unlike regular dust in the air, asbestos clings to bodily tissues. Pleural malignant mesothelioma is most common, because the fibers or dust are inhaled or swallowed. The microscopic dust particles cannot be eliminated by the lungs and eventually become lodged in the mesothelium, the lining surrounding the lungs and other vital organs.

Peritoneal mesothelioma, affecting the abdominal cavity, is the second most common form of this aggressive cancer. Mesothelioma treatment must be equally forceful.

Although the cancer causing dust can mutate cells that will remain latent for 20 years or more, it is particularly virulent once the cancer cells begin multiplying and dividing. The original cells can divide in numerous ways, creating cancer cells which multiply even more quickly and are difficult to identify. Diagnosing mesothelioma is particularly complex. Many patients are in advanced stages of the disease before diagnosis is made and treatment can begin.

Preventing Cancer Causing Dust Exposure

Because mesothelioma is difficult to treat effectively, preventing asbestos exposure is vital. For decades, asbestos was commonly used in construction and industrial settings. It was not until the 1970’s that its toxic nature and relationship to malignant mesothelioma is discovered. The use of asbestos has since been banned. But, there are still numerous buildings, including schools, where asbestos insulation remains.

Renovation or demolition crews, known as asbestos abatement technicians, must wear protective gear to eliminate the chance of asbestos dust exposure. Protective outwear prevents asbestos particles from clinging to clothing and subsequently exposing a secondary area, such as the worker’s home. A specially designed hood prevents the particles from getting into the hair. A mask eliminates any chance of inhaling or ingesting asbestos dust while working with the toxic material. Hazardous material handling procedures are stringent.

Summary

Scientific data proves that asbestos produces a cancer-causing dust that is life-threatening to anyone exposed to the particles. Individuals may not even realize they have been exposed until decades later, when physicians diagnose malignant mesothelioma. Because this particular cancer is rare and difficult to diagnose, the cancer is usually discovered in the advanced stages. Since mesothelioma is one of the only totally preventable malignant diseases, eliminating exposure to asbestos dust is the only answer to eradicating this potentially fatal illness.