We have read and researched a great deal about individuals who were diagnosed with mesothelioma years after they were exposed during their employment in a Navy shipyard or an auto mechanic shop or in roofing.
What our Boston mesothelioma lawyers know is less common is how asbestos may affect those living, working or attending school near those locations.
Now, British researchers studying an “epidemic” of mesothelioma in two Italian cities indicates that the impact is major.
In both communities, Bari and Monferrato, there were asbestos cement factories. This was the one link they had. However, huge numbers of those who were being diagnosed with the terminal cancer had never worked in those facilities. Why were they getting sick?
Researchers took tissue samples from a number of those patients, and also interviewed them in face-to-face interviews. They took note of their residential and occupational history, and then matched up the physical samples with the anecdotal evidence obtained from the interviews.
What they found was this: Being exposed to the fibers in their neighborhoods put them at grave risk for mesothelioma. In fact, the researchers weren’t able to tell much of a difference between the tissue samples taken from workers as opposed to non-workers.
This brings us back to the notion that no exposure to this compound is harmless.
The factory in Casale Monferrato was the first and largest cement factory in Italy. It opened in 1907 and was operational through 1986. More than 1,500 workers at a time toiled at the factory, handling pipes, corrugated sheets and pressure pipes that were made using mixtures of asbestos.
The factory was on the outskirts of the town, which had about 40,000 residents during the 1980s. The warehouse where all of the products were stored before shipping was on the other side of town, which meant the asbestos-laden products were regularly shipped back and forth across town every day, their cancerous fibers spilling throughout the air and into the lungs of the residents.
In 1984, however, the company shut down after a measurement of asbestos fiber concentration indicated extremely high levels.
The other factory, in Bari, was operational from 1934 to 1989. It employed about 500 people at any given time, and similarly produced pipes and sheets made from asbestos mixes.
In Monferrato, of the 454 reported cases of mesothelioma as of 2008, about 370 of those never worked at the factory. In Bari, of 78 new cases of mesothelioma identified between 2000 and 2009, about 25 had never worked at the plant.
What this shows us is that a larger number of people may be at risk for mesothelioma, and may not even realize it. Those who have worked in industries where the disease has been prevalent – albeit decades later – there is more awareness. Those who weren’t employed in those industries and may have had no clue they were even at risk for exposure may be less likely to receive a proper diagnosis at the first sign of illness. Doctors have indicated that the sooner a mesothelioma patient is diagnosed and treated, the longer their expected lifespan will be.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in New England, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Asbestos Fibre Burden in the Lungs of Patients with Mesothelioma Who Lived Near Asbestos-Cement Factories, By PIETRO GINO BARBIERI1*, DARIO MIRABELLI2, ANNA SOMIGLIANA3,DOMENICA CAVONE4 and ENZO MERLER5, British Occupational Hygiene Society