Study shows pre-adolescent asbestos exposure causes lung damage

Even though the health hazards of exposure to asbestos fibers have been the subject of many scientific studies, the subject is still prompting additional research. A new study concerning the exposure to asbestos fibers during the pre-adolescent years demonstrates again that asbestos and asbestos product exposure damages the lungs.

The study focused on 198 people who had lived in Libby, MT until age 18 and then moved away. Libby was chosen because it is the site of an asbestos mine operated by W.R. Grace for many years. The purpose of the study was to measure the effects of asbestos exposure on otherwise healthy adolescents who had no known exposure to the mineral after they reached adulthood. The participants in the study had reached the average age of 50.

The study found that 96 of the 198 subjects, 48 percent, showed signs of thickening in the pleural tissues. The normal rate for this condition among persons who did not experience pre-adolescent exposure ranges from .2 to 6.5 percent. The pleural tissues surround the lungs. Of the 96, almost half had lamellar or layered thickening of the pleura, whereas most persons with pleural thickening have another type, circumscribed thickening. Lamellar thickening causes a greater reduction in pulmonary functioning than circumscribed thickening. The researchers concluded that people who suffered pre-adolescent exposure to asbestos before leaving Libby had the same risk of incurring pleural thickening as persons who lived their entire lives in the town.

Persons who have been exposed to asbestos-containing products and who suffer from shortness of breath and reduced pulmonary functioning may wish to obtain an examination to determine whether they have mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer. If the diagnosis is positive, a consultation with a lawyer who handles product liability lawsuits involving asbestos product exposure can provide a useful overview of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: The Western News, “Asbestos and Pre-1990 Adolescent Exposure,” Bethany Rolfson, Jan. 3, 2017