Mesothelioma Study Confirms High Risk Jobs
A recent study conducted in France assessing the risk of specific occupations for the development of mesothelioma was published in the September, 2010 edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. The article, “Occupations and industries in France at high risk for pleural mesothelioma: A population-based case-control study (1998-2002),” confirms that shipbuilders, construction workers, and those involved in the manufacturing of asbestos and its products are the most at risk for developing this aggressive form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. The study looked at pleural mesothelioma, the most frequently diagnosed form of this cancer, affecting the lining of the chest cavity surrounding the lungs. Research has determined that inhalation of asbestos fibers leads to chronic inflammation and irritation in the pleura, the mesothelium in the chest. Eventually, cancer develops within the mesothelium. This is an exceptionally aggressive cancer, spreading to other parts of the body. The prognosis for mesothelioma is generally poor. The four-year study looked at 462 French workers, over 80% of them men. The researchers developed the odds ratios and confidence intervals for developing mesothelioma based on specific occupations and industries. The control group in the study consisted of workers who had never been employed in these industries. The study looked at occupations and industries that have the greatest risk of encountering airborne asbestos fibers. The three occupations with the highest risk were found to be manufacturing of asbestos, shipbuilding, and construction. Shipbuilders are at risk due to the importance of fire safety on all vessels, leading to extensive use of asbestos on ships. Building, repairing, and demolishing ships cause asbestos fibers to go airborne, increasing the risk of inhalation. Construction workers are at elevated risk due to the use of asbestos in insulating material and other construction materials. In addition to the top three industries and occupations, manufacturers of metal products, chemicals, and equipment used by railroads and aircraft were also at elevated risk. Other occupations that have high risk include sheet metal workers, welders, plumbers, metal molders, makers of casting molds for metals, and cabinetmakers. The study contains advice for obtaining compensation for those suffering from asbestos related illnesses including mesothelioma. They also included advice for how to reduce occupational risks for asbestos related harm. Asbestos was used extensively in industries worldwide for over half a century. It was prized for its resistance to fire and chemicals and its economy. Guidelines for protecting workers have been put in place by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In an effort to prevent current workers from contracting asbestos related diseases, time limits on exposure to asbestos, protective clothing, and special respirators are all part of the EPA requirements for those working with the mineral and its products.