Mesothelioma in the United States
There are about 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Workers who have been exposed to asbestos on the job are at risk. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases.
Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.
Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Both union and non-union workers have been affected. An increased risk of developing mesothelioma has been established among shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople.