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Home improvement and the risk of cancer

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There is a need for contractors and their crews to be aware of the health risks posed by asbestos-containing building materials in older homes. Asbestos-related diseases are the leading cause of death for workers and the number-one cause of death in the construction industry. Between 1996 and 2017, a total of 1,101 people died as a result of historical asbestos exposure. From this number, construction workers accounted for about one-third of those killed.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is an odorless, colorless mineral found in over 3,000 building materials used in many homes built before 1990. It has a unique positive property of heat resistance but a negative feature of causing carcinogenic diseases to people after long exposure. Some materials that contain asbestos include vinyl and linoleum flooring, loose insulation, roof shingles, stucco, and pipe insulation. Others are gypsum-board filling compounds and deck under-sheeting.

Asbestos-containing materials are generally safe if not disturbed to emit harmful dust particles. When disturbed through sanding, cutting, scraping, or tearing, asbestos fibers can be released into the air and once inhaled, they can cause serious health concerns.

Effects of Asbestos 

“Inhaling or swallowing even small amounts of lead or asbestos is extremely dangerous,” Barr, an industrial expert, says.

“Any time you remove walls or ceilings or do major work on floors, you run the risk of encountering both,” he adds.

Therefore, asbestos has a significant impact on deteriorating human health. It is linked to an increase in the risk of contracting mesothelioma. All types of asbestos are cancerous, and exposure to it accounts for at least 90% of all cases of mesothelioma.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare type of carcinoma whose cancer starts in the skin or tissues that line the internal body organs like the lungs. Asbestos exposure is the predisposing factor for the development of mesothelioma cancer. These harmful fibers get lodged in the lining of the lungs, the abdominal cavity, or the heart lining. With time, the fibers lead to intense inflammation and scarring. This scarring then progresses to mesothelioma tumors. Other asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis can also be contracted through inhaling the fibers.

It is important to note that most cases of mesotheliomas are mainly caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers are highly immunogenic. Their heat resistance properties make asbestos very useful in a wide range of applications such as insulation, brakes, shingles, and flooring, among others. It can take between 20 to 60 years or even more for mesothelioma to progress after one getting exposed to asbestos.

Some occupations with a high risk of asbestos exposure include:

  • Asbestos miners
  • Construction and demolition workers
  • Auto mechanics
  • Insulation installers

Types of Mesotheliomas

There are four main types of Mesotheliomas:

  1. Pleural mesothelioma: It targets the protective lining that covers the chest cavity and lungs.
  2. Peritoneal mesothelioma: It is known to target the abdominal lining.
  3. Pericardial mesothelioma: The lining around the heart, also known as the pericardium, is targeted by pericardial mesothelioma.
  4. Testicular mesothelioma: It typically develops in the fine lining of the testes.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

  • Cough
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fever
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Fluid in the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats

Diagnosis

In few cases, there are chances of mesothelioma getting misdiagnosed for several reasons like:

  • It is an uncommon type of cancer; doctors have no previous experience dealing with it.
  • Symptoms are mild to vague; they can resemble other conditions.
  • It can be hard to distinguish mesothelioma from other types of cancers.

Treatment

Cancer treatments require the services of specialists. Oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, and other specialized doctors under mesothelioma research provide the patients with a supreme chance at an effective treatment plan.

Legal Action

Typically, a mesothelioma lawsuit is genuinely filed on behalf of a patient or the family of a victim diagnosed with mesothelioma. Filing an asbestos lawsuit will certainly allow patients suffering from mesothelioma and their families to benefit in terms of compensation from the industries responsible. The compensation does not just ensure that the patient or the family, if the victim is deceased, doesn’t struggle to meet their daily needs. However, it also seeks to hold the asbestos companies accountable for hazardous health effects caused to their workers.

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