For decades now, asbestos and its effects on the human body have been important topics of debate. On one end of the spectrum, some members of America’s industrial complex have fought for the continued use of asbestos because the mineral is inexpensive and has great utility in a wide variety of products. On the other end, many have argued that asbestos should be completely banned because it causes mesothelioma and other adverse health consequences.
There is now widespread acknowledgement that exposure to asbestos can be dangerous. Thus, the government has restricted the uses of the substance. But while exposure to asbestos is a major risk factor for developing mesothelioma, many wonder if there are other possible causes of the disease.
In this article, we will discuss whether it is possible to develop mesothelioma without being exposed to asbestos.
A thin lining of tissue called the mesothelium covers most of the internal organs in the human body. When cancer occurs in the cells of the mesothelium, it is called mesothelioma. This form of cancer is both aggressive and deadly. Because mesothelium tissue exists in multiple areas in the body, doctors often differentiate the cancer by the area affected, such as:
- Pleural mesothelioma (lungs)
- Peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen)
- Testicular mesothelioma (testicles)
- Pericardial mesothelioma (heart)
Causes of Mesothelioma
Many researchers state that they do not entirely understand the cause and development of mesothelioma but have identified the following risk factors often associated with the disease.
- Asbestos exposure: Researchers and doctors believe that most mesothelioma is related to asbestos exposure. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), 70-80 percent of individuals developing mesothelioma have a history of significant asbestos exposure. This is the number one risk factor.
- Erionite exposure: Erionite is a volcanic mineral that has been linked to mesothelioma in people who were not otherwise exposed to asbestos. However, the mineral has properties that make it similar to asbestos. Erionite exposure was linked to increased mesothelioma cases in a particular region of Turkey.
- Other causes: There are a small number of individuals who have developed mesothelioma without being exposed to asbestos or erionite. Doctors do not understand the causation in these cases. It is possible that the people had unknown exposure to asbestos or erionite or that there are other causes that are not yet understood.
Types of Asbestos Exposure
People have been exposed to asbestos through a wide range of products and industries. Importantly, tracking one’s potential exposure can require a review of decades of activity. This is because mesothelioma often takes many years to develop – sometimes as many as 30 to 50. This is unfortunate because the use of asbestos was much more prevalent long ago than it is now. Following are some examples of products that contained asbestos in the past:
- Floor tiles
- Ceiling tiles
- Brake pads and other automotive parts
- Home insulation
- Fire safety products
- Pipe insulation
- Numerous construction products
Call with Questions
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma, it likely resulted from asbestos exposure. Many people in past decades held jobs that routinely exposed them to asbestos, only to learn of the dangers much later in life. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have helped victims all around Oregon for many years and are here to answer any of your questions in a free consultation. We believe that it is important to hold those accountable who cause harm so that society will be protected from such behavior in the future.