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Asbestos and Asbestos Diseases

by Lauren Hasha, Meso-Journal

Asbestos was used extensively in construction in the middle decades of the 20th Century. In the 1970s, builders started phasing out use of asbestos-containing materials. 


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to ban sale of new asbestos products in 1989, but that ban was overturned in court. However, by this time the construction industry had stopped using asbestos.


Although it is still legal for manufacturers to sell asbestos products today and it continues to be used in automobile brakes and some other specialized applications, houses built in the past 20 years do not include asbestos.  Legacy asbestos from decades ago remains a potential hazard in older buildings.

Mesothelioma cancer is caused by inhalation of asbestos fibres. The tumour develops on the mesothelium, the lining of the body’s internal cavities.


The Centers for Disease Control counted 18000 mesothelioma deaths in the United States over the seven-year period from 1999 to 2005, with 2704 deaths in 2005.  During this period the annual death rate was about 14 per million.

The agency expects the number of mesothelioma deaths to peak in 2010, and to begin to decline, as the improvements in safety and reduction in asbestos use instituted decades ago payoff.


The latency period of mesothelioma can be decades, so even though asbestos is used less widely today, people continue to get mesothelioma due to their exposure in the past.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include shortness of breath, chest pain, and persistent dry cough; symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include abdominal pain, increased abdominal girth, distention of the abdomen, ascites (fluid in the abdomen) and digestive disturbances. Less common symptoms of both types can include fatigue and weight loss.

Once a diagnosis of mesothelioma is confirmed, treatment options may vary according to the age, overall health status, stage of the cancer, and the patient's wishes.

If you worked around asbestos at any point in your life, remember that asbestos diseases remain a possibility for you as you get older.

For more information, please visit  This support organisation is bringing awareness to mesothelioma cancer and any other cancer caused by asbestos exposure such as lung and prostate cancer, to provide the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource on the subject.  In addition, their supportive advocates are working even closer with their patients to help them get the treatment and care they deserve.


The above information should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.








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