Hawaii Mesothelioma Resources and Asbestos Information

As a set of geographically isolated Islands, Hawaii has relied upon maritime industries and the US Navy for commerce and protection. This has also meant that many of its citizens have either worked on or at least commonly used boats for transportation. During the last century, asbestos was widely used as a cheap construction material on large vessels. People that were routinely exposed to the asbestos dust are at a heightened risk of developing the rare cancer mesothelioma.

The disease affects the pleural linings of the body’s organs. Since dust and fine particulates from asbestos are by far the largest cause, the lungs and the chest are usually affected the most. Once inhaled, the material cannot be disposed of naturally by the immune system. After years, possibly even multiple decades, cells that have become damaged by the carcinogen begin to turn cancerous. If not caught early enough, these damaged cells can multiply and spread to other parts of the body.

Between 1979 and 1999, an estimated 138 people succumbed to illnesses related to asbestos in Hawaii. Of those, 79 are known to have resulted directly from mesothelioma. Another 59 passed away from the deadly disease known as asbestosis. Geographically, most deaths were concentrated in large urban areas. Honolulu County accounted for the largest share, with 114 of the deaths within its borders. Outlying islands represented a handful of deaths each. Overall, more citizens died from mesothelioma than asbestosis.

The number of deaths from the rare cancer outnumbering those from asbestosis is actually not unusual, despite the fact that asbestosis is the more common disease. Mesothelioma is much rarer, but far deadlier. It is thought that the individuals affected must have had prolonged exposure to the material. In fact, there must have been proportionally much more common exposure than most other places around the world. This may be due to the islands’ citizens being reliant upon ships in the last century for daily routines.

No matter what the cause, many individuals have fallen ill in Hawaii due to their exposure to the dangerous carcinogen. Individuals that can link previous exposure to a current condition have a better chance of early detection. This can be difficult considering the lengthy amount of time it takes for symptoms to actually become prevalent enough to warrant attention.