Asbestos Related Disorders

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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How can exposure to asbestos be reduced?

The basic principle for asbestos is to leave material that is in good condition alone. Periodic inspection and maintenance by an expert in asbestos abatement should be undertaken for areas with sealed or contained asbestos. Local health, environmental, and building safety officials are good sources for local and state regulations on asbestos handling, disposal, and certified workers. If you discover even a very small amount of asbestos in your building, contact a professional for repair, removal, or remodeling.

What kind of asbestos is used today?

Chrysotile is the only form of asbestos that is currently in production today. Despite their association with lung cancer, chrysotile products are still used in 60 industrialized and developing countries, according to the industry-sponsored Asbestos Institute. Chrysotile is still being used in cement building materials (90% of the world production of chrysotile), friction materials, gaskets, and certain plastics. Although the asbestos industry proclaims the "safety" of chrysotile fibers, which are now imbedded in less "friable" and "dusty" products, little is known about the long term effects of current asbestos products because of the long delay to the development of disease. In spite of their potential health risks, the durability and cheapness of these products continue to attract commercial applications. Asbestosis remains a significant clinical problem even after marked reductions in on-the-job exposure to asbestos. Again, this is due to the long period of time between exposure and the onset of disease.

Medically reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

REFERENCES:

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Cigarette Smoking, Asbestos Exposure, and Your Health.

Cancer.gov. Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk.

PubMed.gov. Asbestos mortality in the USA: facts and predictions.

World Health Organization. Asbestos: elimination of asbestos-related diseases.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/7/2015

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