History of Asbestos
The term asbestos refers to a set of six silicate minerals that are similar due to their composition. The fibers are strong, fibrous, microscopic, and naturally occurring. Asbestos was often used as an additive in various industrial and commercial products between 1930 and the 1970s because of its ability to resist fire and electricity. The fibers are also able to effectively absorb sound. Chrysotile asbestos is the most common of the six different forms of asbestos fibers, and accounts for more than 90 percent of the asbestos found in U.S. buildings and aboard Navy ships.
Asbestos was utilized in shipbuilding, wallpaper, flooring, ceiling tiles, insulation, piping, broilers, automotive brake materials, and much more. Although laws limit up to 1 percent of asbestos in products currently manufactured for the U.S., asbestos remains legal with nearly 30 million pounds of asbestos used in the country each year.
Asbestos is also still widely used across Russia, China, and India. Russia currently leads the world in asbestos production and is second to China in quantity used. However, more and more countries are finally starting to see and understand the severity of this toxicant in consumer products. In fact, earlier this year, Canada officially passed a full ban on the carcinogen which will take effect as of 2020, raising the total number of asbestos bans to 66 countries as of March 2019.
Asbestos is proven to be the number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States. In fact, according to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), asbestos is responsible for over 50 percent of all cancer caused by occupational hazards. Firefighters, construction workers, electricians, and service members are the most at risk for asbestos-related diseases. The list of trades at risk in the construction field are next to limitless; cement layers, plumbers, roofers, electricians, painters and more.
There is no amount of asbestos exposure that is considered safe, and if asbestos fibers are unknowingly brought home on clothing, skin, or equipment everyone in the house may be at risk for serious health issues later in life.
Military personnel account for almost 30 percent of all mesothelioma patients. U.S. Navy veterans who served during World War II and the Korean War are the most at risk group among the veteran population. According to a 2016 census there are 20.4 million vets who have been exposed to asbestos during their career.
Mesothelioma cancer is the most fatal among asbestos-related diseases. The cancer presents itself 20 to 50 years after exposure and may originate in the lungs, heart, or abdominal cavity. The disease will begin to form after inhalation or ingestion of airborne asbestos particles. Due to the generic symptoms a patient may experience, late stage diagnosis is a common occurrence among mesothelioma patients.
More than 80-90 percent of all mesothelioma cases occur in the lining of the lungs. Symptoms of mesothelioma of the lungs, or pleural mesothelioma, include shortness of breath and the buildup of fluid in the lungs. Prognosis for mesothelioma patients is poor, with most living a short 12 to 21 months following diagnosis. Due to the latency of the disease, most mesothelioma patients are senior citizens, 91 percent of patients are 55 or older. The average age of diagnosis for men and women are 75 and 72 respectfully.
There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, and around 3,000 new patients are diagnosed every year. On September 26, we recognize Mesothelioma Awareness Day (MAD), a time to show support for those affected and educate others on this rare disease. Whether you’re a patient or a family, a supporter, a doctor, or a researcher it doesn’t take much effort to show you care. Find out how you can help by visiting Curemeso.org today.