Asbestos toxicity is a huge concern among employees in various workspaces. You may not even realize when you work in regions with high asbestos in the environment. Many construction materials, mines, automobiles, vinyl tiles, roofs, motor components, sealants, electric wires, textiles, and pot soils contain asbestos, prolonged exposure to which eventually causes mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a rare condition that creates a tumor and mostly affects men more than women. In fact, 30% of mesothelioma cases in men have been attributed to asbestos exposure. The disease isn’t quick to diagnose and may take years to show visible symptoms. Sadly, there are many misconceptions about mesothelioma which further increase the risk of the disease. Let’s go through the popular myths about mesothelioma that you need to know about:
One of the biggest misconceptions about mesothelioma is that the disease is quite similar to asbestosis. Although, both are caused by the same culprit, their symptoms and treatments are completely different. Mesothelioma is an incurable form of cancerous tumor that appears along the lining of your lungs or abdomen. On the other hand, asbestosis scars the lungs by lodging the fibers of asbestos in the cells, and as a result, you might feel inflammation.
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Although most countries now have strict laws against the use of asbestos, many still have asbestos traces in their construction materials and products used on a daily basis. So it’s not safe to assume that there’s no asbestos around you and you’re safe from the risks. Mesothelioma can still be caused by traces of asbestos found in ceilings, curtains, automobile clutches, brakes, and electrical wires. In case any of these objects are damaged, the fibers of asbestos are released into the environment. When inhaled for prolonged periods, they can result in mesothelioma.
There’s technically no “low” or “safe” level of asbestos, and anyone who claims so is incorrect. Several companies tend to deceive their employees or get defensive by declaring their construction materials utilize safe levels of asbestos. However, it’s true that if you breathe in a lower amount of asbestos fiber, you’ll have decreased risk of mesothelioma.
Only men older than 60 years get mesothelioma
While most of the mesothelioma cases in men are found in ages 60+ years, this disease cannot be stereotyped as an elderly condition. Years ago, men usually worked in industries and had high asbestos exposure. So in those times, mesothelioma occurred in men only. But now times have changed. Asbestos is found in products at home as well as in workplaces. Anyone who is exposed to asbestos for long periods can be at risk. Many women and younger men can also get mesothelioma.
As dangerous as it may be, mesothelioma is not a contagious or genetic disease.
The disease is only caused by exposure to asbestos from the atmosphere. You can hang out with people and have a family without worrying about passing it on to others through close contact. However, it’s necessary to wash your clothes and items brought home from places with high asbestos levels as it can potentially put others around you at risk of mesothelioma.
The longer you are exposed to asbestos, the more likely you’re to develop mesothelioma
It has been proven from scientific discoveries that people with short-term asbestos exposure are potentially at decreased risk of mesothelioma. But at the same time, some scientists have found that people with just one-time exposure to asbestos have also had mesothelioma symptoms. Thus, it’s not safe to assume that only people who have worked in asbestos-rich environments for years are prone to mesothelioma.
Only people who work with asbestos get mesothelioma
While mesothelioma cases from years of first-hand asbestos exposure in industries and workplaces are far more, it’s also possible to get second-hand mesothelioma. It generally occurs from the asbestos found in everyday items brought home from high-exposure environments, such as asbestos on fabrics, brief-cases, bags, or other items.
Wearing masks will prevent you from mesothelioma
Not for a long time!
Although it’s necessary to wear a mask if you work in places with abundant asbestos, it doesn’t guarantee your safety from mesothelioma. Asbestos traces remain in the environment for a while and they don’t just disappear in a few hours. If you even remove it for a second or mishandle the mask, the fibers can reach your lungs and cause damage.
Asbestos exposure should not be taken lightly. Mesothelioma is a dangerous and incurable cancer, and it can be expensive to treat. People should inquire about asbestos fibers before they agree to work in offices or purchase products, as it can reduce the risk of mesothelioma in the long run. Additionally, there’s a need for countries to ban asbestos to minimize the risk of mesothelioma. Educate yourself on the myths and facts about mesothelioma, and follow regulations to keep you and your loved ones safe from this dangerous cancer.