Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was incorporated into more than 5,000 products, was largely utilized before the 1980s for its insulating and fireproofing characteristics. This toxic mineral can be found in various deposits throughout the world and the environmental hazard surrounding asbestos still exists today. Some countries even continue mining and exporting asbestos to developing regions. Careers that have felt the largest impact from mesothelioma cancer, an asbestos-related disease, include those in the construction, manufacturing and shipyard industries.
One of the biggest concerns for a construction worker is working at a site where asbestos-containing materials are present. Without proper testing, the presence of asbestos can remain completely unknown. If asbestos is detected within the area, minimizing dust should be a main priority and specialists should be hired. Another concern is naturally occurring asbestos that is in the soil. Places where naturally occurring asbestos has been known to exist include baseball fields, school playgrounds and dirt roads among areas known to contain asbestos in the soil.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. The most common form of the cancer is pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs. Due to a severe latency period of symptoms ranging between 20 and 50 years from the time of exposure, mesothelioma cancer is often diagnosed in a late stage of development.
This tendency for late diagnosis often complicates mesothelioma treatment options and as a result the average mesothelioma life expectancy is four to 18 months. There is no cure for this cancer, but some patients who were diagnosed early enough have survived mesothelioma. For this reason, it is important for anyone exposed to asbestos to seek regular medical exams to check for signs of asbestos disease. In some cases, patients may file a mesothelioma lawsuit to obtain financial assistance for their pursuit of medical care.
•John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC