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How Did You Get Exposed?

It feels like a punch in the gut. You've worked all your life to make a decent living and raise your family only to get a mesothelioma diagnosis. Now you're wondering how you were exposed to this disease.

For factory workers, military veterans, first responders, construction or demolition workers and a host of other professions, the answer is clear. Occupational asbestos exposure is the leading cause of exposure to this dangerous mineral.

Common Asbestos Products

More than 3,000 products manufactured and distributed today throughout the United States contain asbestos. That doesn't include the products that are made overseas and shipped to the U.S. In addition, thousands of other asbestos products were made decades ago and are still in use:

  • Automotive Products -- brake pads, clutch pads and manual and automatic transmission components.
  • Building Materials -- Flooring (including ceramic tile, carpeting, carpet glue and vinyl flooring), paints, ceiling tiles, ceiling texturizing, roofing materials, plaster boards, adhesives, wall boards and outdoor siding.
  • Cooling and Heating Systems -- duct work insulation, boiler insulation, gaskets and pipe wraps.
  • Fire Protection Products -- Fire protective clothing worn by firefighters, fire doors, fireproof sprays and fire blankets.
  • Household Products -- Talcum powder, Cigarette filters, fertilizer, hair dryers and ironing board covers.
  • Occupational Exposure

    In addition to the thousands of products that are affiliated with asbestos exposure, workers in certain trades and occupations run a higher risk for mesothelioma. Also, family members who have secondhand exposure have a higher risk of mesothelioma:

    • Industrial Exposure -- Industries that include power plants, steel mills, oil refineries and chemical plants use asbestos because of its heat- and fire-resistant properties. Many workers in these plants are required to wear asbestos-laden fireproof clothing.
    • Shipyard Workers -- Those who worked in the closed quarters on board ships or in shipyards have a particularly high asbestos-exposure rate. That's because the mineral has been widely used in a variety of shipbuilding products and materials.
    • Construction and Renovation Exposure -- From do-it-yourselfers to the most seasoned construction workers, asbestos exposure is a very real and dangerous thing. Products that were made with asbestos in the 1970s remain in home and businesses nationwide. These include roofing, flooring and wall materials.
    • Emergency Workers -- First responders run a high risk of asbestos exposure because damages to aging homes and buildings can cause the release of the toxic fibers.
    • Military Exposure -- Asbestos use was mandated for years in some branches of the military. In the Navy, asbestos was used on vessels that included aircraft carriers and submarines. In other branches of the military, it was similarly used in land, air and sea vehicles.
    • Why Did I Get Mesothelioma And My Coworker Did Not?

      For reasons researchers are just beginning to investigate, some workers are more susceptible to mesothelioma than others. It may be caused by the extent and amount of exposure or it may be due to genetic factors.

      Either way, if you were ever exposed to mesothelioma, it is best to get annual checkups. Because early detection is the key to recovery, all factory workers, military veterans, first responders and others in similar occupations are urged to seek out a medical professional with expertise in mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.

      Sources:

      1. Lacourt. A. “Pleural mesothelioma and occupational coexposure to asbestos, mineral wool, and silica.” PubMed.Gov. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23471464
      2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Asbestos Containing Materials. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/region6/6pd/asbestos/asbmatl.htm
      3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH News. “NIH-funded researchers discover genetic link to mesothelioma; Identified gene mutation may underlie other cancer types.” 2011. Retrieved from http://www.nih.gov/news/health/aug2011/nci-28.htm
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