Mesothelioma is an inflammation of the mesothelium caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. These fibers get into the body through inhalation and orally and get stuck in the lining of the lungs where they cause inflammation of the pleura resulting in accumulation of fluids between the tissues. Inhaled asbestos fibers are the principal cause of pleural mesothelioma while the one that goes into the body orally is the chief cause of peritoneal mesothelioma.
The groups exposed to asbestos are at higher risk
Mesothelioma is mostly an occupational hazard. Most of the people that come down with the disease had prolonged exposure to the disease through their occupation. However, wind can blow particles of the fiber from industries to homes.
Secondary inhalation can occur when asbestos factory workers return home with the particles of the fiber settled on his cloth. At the point of removal of his cloth, the particles are carried by air and can be inhaled by other family members thereby putting them at the risk of contracting this disease.
Asbestos was used for roofing
Up until the regulation of asbestos began in 1989 in the United States by the collaborative effort of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, asbestos was the choice insulating material used for the roofing of both residential and commercial houses. And till date, they can still be found in some residential houses in developing countries. Those that have had asbestos exposure are more likely to be diagnosed of mesothelioma than those without an exposure.
Asbestos was used for its durability
The main reason why asbestos was used as choice roofing material in the past was because it was durable and could withstand extremes of temperatures. However, asbestos particles are microscopic and friable (meaning airborne or loose).
Asbestos is dangerous as it is inhaled without knowing
As asbestos is microscopic and friable, it can be inhaled easily without the person knowing it, just same way carbon monoxide is deadly because it is odorless. In both cases, the victim continues to be exposed to the carcinogenic agent without knowing they are.
When inhaled, these asbestos fibers collect on the mesothelium – a membrane that produces lubricants for organs. The function of this lubricant is to allow easy expansion and contraction of the lungs and other associated organs.
Pleural mesothelioma results when these fibers accumulate on the pleural membrane leading to inflammation and accumulation of fluid. Primary exposure was very common in the naval, paint industry, shipyards, power plants and so on. Workers in those industries often carry huge particles of asbestos on their clothes and hairs often leading to secondary exposure.
Other causes of mesothelioma – radiation and tobacco
Besides asbestos, there are other elements that have been implicated with mesothelioma and they includes;
Exposure to radiation: Radiation has a tendency to make cells mutate though this is a rare cause of mesothelioma
Tobacco smoking: It has been proven that those that take tobacco have a higher chance of coming down with mesothelioma.
The other emerging risk factor is the carbon nanotubes. When tested in the laboratory with mice, carbon nanotubes showed similar activity as asbestos when they were implanted into the test organism.
- Mesothelioma is a disease implicated with prolonged exposure to asbestos
- It causes inflammation of the pleural membrane
- There are two kinds of mesothelioma
- Smoking increases ones risk of having mesothelioma
- Other causes of mesothelioma besides asbestos are smoking, exposure to radiation and carbon nanotubes
- Asbestos was a choice roofing material because of its durability.
- Most exposure to asbestos happens as a result of occupation
- Secondary inhalers are those who inhale asbestos from fomites of a family member
- Regulation of asbestos began in 1989
- Asbestos is dangerous because they are microscopic and friable
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