Many people think of asbestos as a man-made poison. While it is toxic, and nearly every case of mesothelioma was due to asbestos exposure caused by the negligence of reckless people and companies, asbestos itself a substance found in nature.
For thousands of years, humans have mined asbestos in one or more of its various forms and used it as an insulator from heat and fire. Researchers have found asbestos fibers in pottery made in Finland dating to back to 2,500 B.C. In the 1600s, Russians used chrysotile asbestos fibers to make paper. The asbestos they used was traced to the Ural Mountains.
As it turns out, it is also an effective insulator from many corrosive chemicals and electricity. It was during the Industrial Revolution in North America and Western Europe when companies began to mine large quantities of the silica-based mineral and refine it into all types of industrial, commercial, and consumer products – to the point where asbestos products filled many aspects of people’s lives.
However, asbestos is still found in a nature to this day, and, according to a recent CBS news article, it is still very dangerous to humans in its natural state. As the article describes, if inhaled, asbestos fibers (microscopic) can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, larynx cancer, mesothelioma, pleural fibrosis and asbestosis.
While asbestos in often found in rock and vermiculite, it is also found in soil. Anyone who disrupts a soil deposit containing asbestos is at risk for exposure through inhalation. Researchers have also found that even in the quantities or particle inhalation in a non-confined environment, a person with extended outside exposure to asbestos will typically suffer the same effects as those who became exposed to asbestos in a factory environment.
There are a variety of ways people can become exposed to soil asbestos, through it normally occurs during occupational exposure. Agricultural jobs and construction jobs such as excavation work are obvious examples of how workers could be exposed to deadly asbestos fibers.
As our Boston mesothelioma attorneys can explain, one of the most difficult aspects of asbestos exposure diagnosis and treatment is that there is really no feasible means to diagnose a patient unless and until the fibers have started to metastasize into the deadly form of cancer. The fibers themselves are microscopic. In order to confirm the presence of microscopic asbestos fibers in human tissues, an oncologist will normally perform a biopsy, which involves cutting out a portion of tissue suspected of containing mesothelioma cells such as a tumor, polyp, or other irregularity. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for histological analysis under a high-powered microscope. Unfortunately, there is no reasonable way for doctors to examine internal tissues in the human body under a microscope, and doctors will not generally perform a destructive biopsy without symptoms of cancer.
It should also be noted, it is not only the workers themselves who are risk of asbestos exposure from natural soil deposits. These workers often come home from work at the end of the day covered in dirt and take a shower and throw their clothes in an ordinary hamper. They hug their spouses or children while still covered in microscopic dust and track it all through the house with their work boots.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.