For decades now, the dangers of asbestos exposure have been well known. People who made products containing asbestos and employers who used these materials have known that exposing people to airborne asbestos can make them very sick. In the most severe cases, a person develops mesothelioma, a cancer that is quite aggressive and affects the lining around a person’s lungs.
The link between asbestos and mesothelioma was confirmed over 40 years ago, but a new study was recently conducted that indicates that there may be two other fibers similar to asbestos that can cause mesothelioma. They are often used in the same industries asbestos, and unfortunately, the risk of mesothelioma may increase if a person is exposed to more than one of these fibers.
The study looked at mineral wool and silica and suggests that there is a significant association between the fibers. Nearly 1,200 industrial workers with mesothelioma were compared with 2,370 workers in the same industry who were not sick. They monitored the levels of asbestos, silica and mineral wool that the workers were exposed to and make some upsetting findings.
According to the results, workers who had been exposed to both asbestos and mineral wool were at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than those exposed to just one of the fibers. The increase could also be seen in people who were exposed to both asbestos and silica.
Researchers suggest that asbestos is the primary cause of the initial inflammation and irritation that triggers mesothelioma, and inhaling other harmful particles, like silica and mineral wool, can make the problem even worse. While this is just one study that suggests the link between the different particles, it may spark further research into the relationship between mesothelioma and the harmful particles that industrial workers have been exposed to.
Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, “Asbestos Mesothelioma Risk Increased By Other Fibers,” March 17, 2013