5 Ways Pleural Mesothelioma is Related To Asbestos Exposure and What Are Its Devastating Effects?

By Urbanaveed
6 Min Read

What is Mesothelioma?

Simply put, Mesothelioma is the formation of lumps or masses of tumor cells in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is the outer lining that covers our many internal organs. Depending upon the type of mesothelium, it can be categorized. For example, Pleural Mesothelioma is the most common in today’s population. In Pleural Mesothelioma, tiny lumps are formed in the mesothelium of the lungs. Sometimes, this lump or mass of tumor cells becomes malignant (spreading to other parts of the body), leading to cancer. Similarly, Pericardial Mesothelioma and Peritoneal Mesothelioma are also fatal. The peritoneum is the internal lining of the abdomen that covers most of our abdominal organs. Any disturbance to this lining leads to Peritoneal Mesothelioma.

Causes of Pleural Mesothelioma

The most common cause of Pleural Mesothelioma is exposure to Asbestos. This exposure was very common in the past due to its extensive use in construction and industrial preparations. This use has now become obsolete owing to its hazardous effects on our health. Asbestos fibers usually stay incorporated in the mesothelial tissues for an extended period. This is the reason why patients with pleural mesothelioma are diagnosed at later stages. Many patients who once were exposed to asbestos and the fibers somehow managed to get entangled in their tissues. They show symptoms very later in their lives when it’s become impossible to cure them. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for pleural mesothelioma at the later stages.

Let’s Learn What Type of Chemical ‘Asbestos’ is;

Asbestos is a name used for a group of Silicate minerals that occur in the form of long fibrous stands. Asbestos generally is a mineral that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust or can be found in older homes or buildings due to its extensive use at construction sites before it was banned in many countries. Asbestos occurs in two major forms either the serpentine group that includes chrysotile crystals or the amphibole group. The Amphibole group is further divided into many forms. The main reason for its harmful effects is its crystalline, fibrous form that remains persistent in the body even for years. Its most common form is chrysotile (White Asbestos) whose general formula is Mg3(Si2O5) (OH)4. It indicates the presence of Magnesium, Silicon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen in fixed ratios.

How and Where Asbestos Exposure Occurs;

Inhalation is the most common route of asbestos exposure. It can also be ingested while eating food contaminated with asbestos fibers. Once it’s inhaled, its fibers begin to disturb the normal functioning of mesothelial cells. It can cause changes in the morphology of mesothelial cells or tissues or more severely can cause genetic disorders by causing mutations in DNA structures. Following are the potential sites from where you can inhale asbestos fibers;

Old buildings or Renovation Sites: Asbestos was widely used in the construction of older buildings or homes. Till it had proved cancerous, Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) were the main materials used for insulation, roofing, and flooring purposes. Its extensive use lies in its great heat-resistant properties. Asbestos is also fire-resistant and does not ignite easily. These properties of asbestos led to its great use in the past. Older buildings or historical sites that are deteriorating at present can be a substantial source of ACMs. That’s why it is advised not to disturb old asbestos-containing materials, it will make asbestos fibers airborne from where you can inhale them.

Workplaces or Industries: Many industrial preparations in the past which involve shipbuilding, construction, and manufacturing industries use asbestos-containing materials. Shipbuilding and automobile were the main industries in which asbestos was used in excess. Its fire-resistant and heat-resistant properties made it valuable for insulating ship compartments. Besides, manufacturing industries of machinery and automobile equipment, textile industry, and construction materials manufacturing use asbestos in the form of Asbestos Containing materials (ACMs)

Automobiles: As explained in the previous point, asbestos was used in the automobile manufacturing industry, mainly in brake linings, gaskets, and clutch facings. It directly poses a threat to the workers working in these industries. Also, auto-repair mechanics and enthusiast auto workers are on the verge of asbestos exposure while repairing these parts.

Natural Sources: Asbestos can be found naturally in many regions. Natural calamities like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc., can cause asbestos exposure to the environment. People living in these regions or nearby to them are at risk of asbestos exposure.

Passive Exposure to Family Members: Industrial or automobile workers, or workers who work at old construction or renovation sites, can pose a threat to their family members. When they return home with asbestos fibers stuck to their bodies or clothes, it will contaminate family members who come in contact with these asbestos-containing things.

How Can You Prevent Asbestos Exposure?

Although asbestos use is banned in many countries, it is also used in many third-world countries. Besides, older vehicles and buildings are the main threat to healthy people who can get asbestos exposure at such sites. The main reason why asbestos contamination cannot be detected in the early period is due to its stability and persistence inside the human body. Asbestos fibers remain entangled in the mesothelial tissues with no prominent symptoms for longer durations. 

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Student of BSc MLT at NUMS, and Content Writer in Health, Medicine, and Wellness. Finding soothe in writing and spreading knowledge.
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