The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study of women with mesothelioma and discovered 614 deaths in 2020 due to the disease. The importance of studying women specifically is because past work has only focused on men, who are traditionally the ones experiencing firsthand exposure to asbestos.
The goal of the study was to find ways to minimize secondhand exposure and help prevent illnesses. While there is much more work to do in this area, some ideas have emerged on the secondhand exposure risks.
How asbestos infects
Asbestos, once hailed as a miracle material for its heat resistance and durability, now identifies as a silent and deadly threat to human health. This naturally occurring mineral’s danger lies in its microscopic fibers that it releases when disturbed.
When its fibers become airborne and people inhale them, it leads to primary exposure. However, these fibers are incredibly small, almost invisible to the naked eye, and can latch onto clothing and other items, which the primary individual carries home. This is most likely how most women had exposure.
Issues with identifying causes
One of the most insidious aspects of asbestos-related diseases is their long latency period. It can take several decades for symptoms to manifest after exposure, making it difficult to pinpoint the source of the illness. It was clear about primary exposure risks much sooner than secondary exposure risks, which is another reason why studies on women are not as prevalent.
To mitigate the danger of asbestos exposure, the government has implemented regulations to limit its use and require proper handling and disposal. The key to preventing asbestos-related diseases is awareness and proactive measures to identify how exposure occurs.