One of the primary causes of mesothelioma is exposure toasbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral composed of tiny fibrils used in the building material. People can get exposed to asbestos in their workplace owing to the nature of their job.
Long ago, the use of asbestos in making buildings was rampant. It was used to insulate public and commercial buildings and older homes. The tiny fibrilsin asbestos dust attack by traveling to body’s small air passages upon breathing, causing inflammation and scarring of the pleural lining of the chest wall and lungs.Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer by destroying the lung cells over time. When the dust reaches the abdominal lining when coughed and swallowed, it causesperitoneal mesothelioma by damaging the DNA, leading to uncontrolled cell growth.
Many people get exposed to a minor amount of asbestos in their life as some levels of these fibers are present in the outside air. The dust from rocky areas where asbestos is present in higher levels mixes with the air and sometimes water. However,the high risk of asbestos comes from working in construction, factories, mines, manufacturing plants and installers, shipbuilding and plumbing, among other professions.
Other reasons for mesothelioma in your body include the following:
These minerals are also related to asbestos in their chemical composition. They are composed ofsilicon, aluminum, and oxygen and are often used as absorbents and catalysts. Due to their spongy structure, they are often used in air and water purification processes.
The mineral is usually found near dormant and active volcanos; hence it is naturally found in ashes and rocks. One of the kinds of zeolites, known as erionite, is found in Turkey,where it is believed to be a cause of mesothelioma in the residents of those areas.
Another cause of mesothelioma is radiation treatment on the chest and abdomen while treating other kinds of cancer. The radiation process damages the cell’s DNA, resulting in mesothelioma. Hence, the risk of mesothelioma in patients with a history of radiation treatment is higher; the occurrence is still negligible.
Age is another risk factor for the occurrence of mesothelioma. This cancer can appear in youngsters and kids, but the ratio of this cancer in patientsunder 45 years of age is very rare. About two-thirds of the patients with mesothelioma of the chest are older than 65.
The rate of spread of mesothelioma also differs among genders. More male population is diagnosed with mesothelioma than women.A possible explanation for this might be that men work on construction sites more frequently, leading to higher chances of asbestos exposure.
How to Prevent Mesothelioma?
The most appropriate way to prevent mesothelioma is by reducing your exposure to asbestos at work and in other settings. Awareness about asbestos is the first step towards preventing yourself from contracting a deadly disease.
Studies have shown that smoking can compound the chances of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related illnesses. Therefore, do not smoke, and if you do, quit as soon as possible.
If you suspect asbestos in some parts of your house, do not disturb or go near it if you are not trained to handle it. Instead, hire a professional to do the cleaning job for you.
Other ways to prevent mesothelioma on worksite include the following:
- The use of asbestos was rampant during the 20Th century, so working in older buildings likely increases your chances of mesothelioma. Check the year of the constructionif you’re part of a demolition crew and use appropriate gear and safety equipment in case of asbestos presence.
- When working on projects where asbestos is found in the construction material, ensure that the safety standards of occupational Safety and Health Administration are met.
- Often workers are not aware of the risk and presence of asbestos, so the construction manager must provide guidelines to everyone associated with a project. The project managers must make it mandatory for all the workers to understand the impact of exposure andlearn prevention techniques before starting the project.
- When working on any construction project, avoid insulation products that may contain asbestos and release toxic dust when disturbed.
- Before signing a project, discuss the risk of exposure to asbestos with the employer and ensure the presence of the standard protective equipment for compliance.
- Always work with your work clothes and shoes and place your home clothes away from the worksite to prevent them from getting contaminated. Contaminated clothes can carry toxic dust to your house and family.
- Always ensure the presence of a HEPA filter in the vacuum cleaner to sweep and clean the asbestos dust. Otherwise, you can usea wet cleaning method to prevent air contamination with asbestos dust.
Mesothelioma is one of the rare yet fatal forms of cancer. Although you are not in control of changes taking place in your cells due to the actions of your genes, prevention is always in your hands.
Asbestos is said to be the major cause leading to mesothelioma; therefore, it is imperative to have anadequateunderstanding of the health hazards of asbestos. When working on sites where asbestos limits exceed the allowed levels, always wear respiratory protection and follow safety regulations.