In honor of National Women’s Health Week I wanted to put a spotlight on Mesothelioma, a rare, deadly form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. This deadly disease, which destroys the lining of the lung, was once thought to plague mostly men who work in construction and manufacturing, but now is becoming more common in women because of second-hand exposure.
Though the EPA banned certain asbestos-containing products and any new uses of asbestos in the late 1980s, rates of mesothelioma have continued to increase since then. Furthermore, much of the construction that used asbestos is still around and the removal of asbestos can also cause exposure. Homeowners can come in contact with asbestos while working in their attic installing insulation, or by disturbing existing insulation when doing renovations. In most cases mesothelioma results from chronic exposure such as individuals working in a factory or demolition construction workers destroying old buildings on a regular basis.
Family members can be exposed to asbestos second-hand from a worker’s clothing if it is brought home. The clothing can pick up asbestos “dust”, which contains tiny fibers or particles that can then become lodged in the lungs as irritants. It is critical that protective face gear is worn by those working in at risk jobs or when working on home construction projects. Clothing that has been worn at an at-risk site should not be taken away from the work site.
For more information on this deadly disease, please visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance’s website and for one woman’s courageous battle with mesothelioma, read Heather Von St. James’ touching story.