What causes mesothelioma?

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 What causes mesothelioma

Image from asbestos.com


(Last Update : 21 November 2020)

Exposure to asbestos fibres or asbestos dust is the main cause of mesothelioma, but in some cases there is no clear link to asbestos.

 Asbestos is the name of a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to high temperatures and humidity. It was used in many building products in Australia from the 1940s until 1987. Since 2004, Australia has banned asbestos being sold, reused and/or imported. Despite the ban, asbestos has been found in some products recently imported from overseas.

 It is still found in many older buildings, so special care needs to be taken when renovating. People who may have been exposed to asbestos at work include: builders, plumbers and electricians; boilermakers and welders; asbestos miners; asbestos cement manufacturing workers; insulators; automotive industry workers; mechanics; transport workers (especially waterside workers); and textile workers. 

People who haven’t worked directly with asbestos but have been exposed to it can also develop mesothelioma. These can include people cleaning work clothes with asbestos fibres on them, or people disturbing asbestos during home renovations or maintenance. It can take many years for mesothelioma to develop after a person is exposed to asbestos. This is called the latency period or interval – it is usually between 20 and 60 years (most commonly around 40 years) after exposure.

Reference Sources:

  1. Understanding Pleural Mesothelioma  edition August 2019. © Cancer Council Australia 2019. ISBN 978 1 925651 63 8. (LINK)

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