Lowering the Risk of Mesothelioma in Everyday Products (Page 1 of 2)

Although people who live or work around asbestos mines or work directly with asbestos-containing products are at greatest risk, a non-commercial form of amphibole mineral, named tremolite may also pose a mesothelioma risk to consumers. Tremolite asbestos is found in some chrysotile, talc and vermiculite deposits; and like all forms of asbestos, it carries the risk of asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma.

Recently, a California firm called ChemRisk conducted a study in which it warned that hundreds of consumer products may, in fact, contain mesothelioma-causing tremolite. To get an idea just how great the mesothelioma risk is, the group looked at the exposure-response relationship in two high-asbestos environments – the Thetford chrysotile mine in Canada and the vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana. For people working in these environments, the lowest-observed-adverse-effect level (LOAEL) for mesothelioma was 35-73 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cc) per year.

Who is at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?

For a long time now, it was commonly thought that only those people who were career factory workers, HVAC workers, navy veterans, plumbers or auto mechanics were at high risk for contracting mesothelioma. For instance, many auto makers can be exposed to asbestos-containing products such as can be found in brakes, transmissions, and engine parts.

However, everyday consumers like you or I can also be exposed to asbestos. For instance, people who regularly use or have used vermiculite-containing gardening products (such as potting soil) are likely exposed to 0.034 f/cc of tremolite per year. Non-occupational use of joint compound carries an estimated exposure level of 0.0006 f/cc per year, while homeowner removal of Zonolite insulation likely exposes homeowners to 0.0002 f/cc of tremolite each year.

Asbestos exposure may also occur whenever someone demolishes or renovates a part of their home, particularly if the home was built before the mid 1970s as asbestos can be found in many home construction materials such as: sheetrock taping, ceiling tiles, plasters and stuccos, countertops, siding, caulk and more.

Although the numbers are small compared to those who work directly with asbestos, there is an increased risk of consumers being exposed to asbestos if they use asbestos containing products. As researchers have already stated, the more of these products a consumer uses on a regular basis, the higher the exposure to tremolite and the greater the overall lifetime risk of health problems such as mesothelioma.

Increasing Awareness About Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Each year in the United States of America, more than 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed. Sadly, for many of these cases, most patients will succumb to the effects of mesothelioma, a cancer of the mesothelial lining. Part of this is due to the fact that mesothelioma has an extremely long latency period, meaning that most victims will not become symptomatic or realize that there is something wrong until decades after asbestos exposure. In almost all cases, those who have mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos decades ago.

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