When people consider the dangerous cancer mesothelioma, whether it is because they have the disease, or they are simply curious about it, the same question often comes up. How much exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma? This question could be how many times, how intensely, or how many asbestos fibers.
The short answer to this question is one exposure. A recent BMJ Case Reports abstract gives us more backing for this claim. It would seem as if the more exposures, the more likely mesothelioma is. This is the case. But even with barely any asbestos exposure, one is at risk of getting mesothelioma. If you have had any more than zero exposures, you are at risk. All these answers make a lot of sense because of how mesothelioma is caused, which is explained later on.
Even though asbestos causes many diseases, asbestos is the sole cause of mesothelioma. Thus, the source of the case is very easy to trace down: asbestos exposure. There are multiple types of mesothelioma, for example pleural (the most common), and peritoneal. In the United States alone, there are 3,300 cases of mesothelioma every year.
Usually, mesothelioma originates in the lining between the lung cavity and chest wall, a space called the pleura. This type of mesothelioma is known as pleural mesothelioma. Another place mesothelioma can form is the peritoneum, a thin membrane which wraps around the abdominal cavity. This form of mesothelioma is known as peritoneal mesothelioma.
Here’s how mesothelioma is caused. Asbestos fibers are microscopic. When they enter the lungs, they can penetrate the cells of the pleura or the peritoneum, as well as a few other places. They can enter the lungs from being breathed in or being swallowed. If the fibers get stuck in the lungs and stay, they can irritate the cells. This can give healthy cells disease, which may eventually elevate into cancer. Even only one asbestos fiber stuck in the lung can cause disease. This is because when the cell gets disease, it can spread to the other cells and become a full-fledged cancer.
The BMJ report concludes with this same thought about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure amount. The study said that “the degree of asbestos exposure to induce a malignant mesothelioma may be smaller than has been traditionally thought.” Not much asbestos at all is required to cause mesothelioma: even one microscopic asbestos fiber is enough to trigger it.
Usually, the exposure that causes mesothelioma is occupational. Construction is the most common source of occupational exposure, as asbestos was contained in many construction materials before the 1980s. Automobile mechanic work also used to involve asbestos containing materials. This was the case until the very end of the 1900s. Asbestos was in so many places that many trades used to expose people to asbestos. And now, asbestos is almost everywhere, and exposure is very easily possible even without ever having worked at an at-risk job.
It is very hard—yes, almost impossible—to entirely avoid asbestos exposure, but it is possible to limit it. And although even the smallest amount of asbestos exposure is able to cause mesothelioma, the more exposure, the more likely mesothelioma becomes. One way to avoid great amounts of asbestos exposure is by removing the substance from your home. Call us today at (708) 367-3381 to ask us about asbestos testing or removal.