Is Mesothelioma A Sleeping Dragon

Is Mesothelioma A Sleeping Dragon

Mesothelioma is​ caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is​ a​ substance found naturally. it​ is​ made of​ strong flexible fibres. it​ was used extensively in​ industry because the fibres are not affected by heat or​ chemicals and a​ poor conductor of​ electricity. it​ is​ estimated that over 5,000 products have or​ had asbestos in​ them.

Of the six types of​ asbestos, only four are used commercially. These are chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite and anthrophyllite. of​ these, crysotile or​ white asbestos accounts for 99% used in​ USA. in​ it​ natural state or​ well contained and maintained in​ products, asbestos do not pose a​ real hazard. it​ is​ when asbestos is​ broken down and fibres are released that there is​ concern.

Asbestos fibres are very thin and sharp. The fibre is​ 2,000 times thinner than a​ human hair. it​ measures under 0.3 microns or​ one millionth of​ a​ millimetre in​ diameter and five microns in​ length. it​ is​ not visible with the naked eye or​ through a​ microscope.
When released, the fibres remain in​ the atmosphere for a​ long time and can be carried great distances. When the fibres are inhaled, they stick to​ the lung tissue and are not expelled by breathing out or​ coughing. Some remain in​ the lungs, others gravitate into the pleural lining.

Asbestos exposure can lead to​ disease and develops over a​ long period of​ time. Asbestos related diseases are asbestosis, pleural plaques and lung cancers. The lung cancer can be either cancer of​ the lung itself or​ mesothelioma, a​ cancer of​ the lung lining. These cancers can take between 20 and 50 years to​ develop.
A recent article in​ a​ UK Newspaper highlighted the case of​ a​ Hospital Consultant who developed mesothelioma. He cannot recall any exposure to​ asbestos. it​ may well be that he was inadvertently exposed to​ asbestos without his knowledge i.e. such as​ living in​ the vicinity of​ a​ factory that leaked asbestos into the atmosphere.

Professor Peto has shown that new cases of​ mesothelioma will continue to​ increase in​ the early part of​ the twenty first century. He also said, “Every single person in​ the UK has asbestos in​ their lungs. it​ is​ the level of​ exposure that is​ important.”

We also know that people who has a​ history of​ asbestos exposure has a​ greater risk of​ lung cancer if​ they smoked. in​ a​ survey in​ 1992, 2602 individuals with lung cancer were interviewed. One in​ eight was exposed to​ asbestos and of​ these a​ third still smoked. a​ US study suggested that non-smokers exposed to​ asbestos have a​ five times greater risk of​ lung cancer. if​ they smoked, then the risk increased by a​ factor of​ 11. Smoking and asbestos exposure increases the risk of​ developing lung cancer to​ 52 times that of​ the general population.

At present no one knows how many lung cancers are due to​ asbestos exposure because of​ the long latency period and that cigarette smoking remains the major cause. Mesothelioma, however, is​ caused by asbestos exposure and this has been the basis of​ numerous high value legal claims.

As for the future, in​ the USA and Europe, asbestos related diseases will gradually increase to​ a​ peak. of​ concern, however, are areas of​ conflict. in​ the Middle East, when a​ building was bombed, or​ when numerous buildings were bombed during the invasion of​ Iraq, do we have any idea how much asbestos was released into the atmosphere?

We are, however, certain that during the 9/11 disaster, asbestos fibres were released. When the Twin Tower collapsed, there were 400 tons of​ asbestos in​ the structure. The toxic cloud that hung over Manhattan, contained high level of​ asbestos. it​ is​ estimated that over 100,000 people suffered asbestos exposure. The greatest exposure was amongst first responders. Deborah Reeve was the first to​ die from asbestos related disease after 9/11. She was a​ first responder and paramedic. She died in​ March 2018 from mesothelioma. This concerned experts because mesothelioma takes a​ very long time to​ develop. They concluded that her exposure must have been excessive.

A study result showed that 70% of​ recovery and rescue workers who were active during and after the World Trade Centre collapse had some form of​ respiratory problem. a​ six year follow up study showed that sufferers with respiratory problems continue to​ have the same ailments.
“In the six years since the attacks,” Nadler said, “We have accumulated a​ mountain of​ evidence that thousands of​ those exposed are suffering from chronic respiratory disease and, increasingly, a​ variety of​ rare cancers.”

Hopefully, as​ experts predict, within the next few years asbestos related diseases will peak and the annual new cases will drop. if​ not, could it​ be a​ sleeping dragon about to​ wake up?

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