Who is at increased risk for mesothelioma?
It comes as no suprise that industries and occupations that utilized asbestos products in greater quanities and on a consistent basis are most at risk for mesothelioma.
An increased risk of developing mesothelioma has been found among shipyard workers, steelworkers, chemical plant workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure.
Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. It was mined in the US up until 2002. Asbestos use greatly increased during World War II, and since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust.
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. However, the risk of asbestos-related disease—including, but not limited to, mesothelioma—increases with heavier exposure to asbestos and a longer exposure time. While not all workers who are heavily exposed develop asbestos-related diseases, some individuals with only brief exposures have developed mesothelioma.
Some of those at risk for mesothelioma never worked directly with asbestos. Wives, daughters, sons, and other family members living with asbestos workers' can have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases. This risk may be the result of bystander exposure to asbestos through dust brought home on the clothing and hair of asbestos workers. Doing laundry could literally prove deadly to family members of asbestos workers. To reduce the chance of exposing family members to asbestos fibers, asbestos workers were eventually required to shower and change their clothing before leaving the workplace.