Oklahoma and Asbestos Exposure

Oklahoma has recently seen large growth in the telecommunications and aviation sectors. Predominantly, however, it remains one of the largest agricultural producers in the entire US. Once a pioneering oil producer, its energy sector is now being driven by an impressive natural gas market. As of 2005 the petroleum produced within its borders account for approximately 17% of state GDP.

Though an economically vibrant future surely lies ahead for Oklahoma, there is a past history with asbestos that has caused many victims to asbestos related diseases like mesothelioma. Asbestos was commonly used in large industries for its flame retardant properties and ability to resist many corrosive substances. The cheap costs associated with the carcinogen is what led to its widespread usage in many areas where humans would come into contact with it. When the dust is inhaled, it accumulates within the body, unable to be disposed of by natural processes.

It is important to remember that across the US, mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases remain fairly rare. With an increasing population during the later part of the 1900s, Oklahoma saw an increase in citizens from 3 million to 3.4 million. As the population increased, the number of people diagnosed with diseases related to exposure was documented to be 336. Of those, more than twice as many perished from mesothelioma than asbestosis, a serious but less fatal inflammation of the lungs

Research suggests that the reason for this two to one ratio is the difference in mortality of the two illnesses. Though both are deadly, asbestosis patients often live longer than those with mesothelioma. Early detection is often easier with asbestosis as well. At the onset of mesothelioma, many patients simply attribute their symptoms to a cold or flu that won’t go away. Physicians that aren’t aware of prior exposure may find it difficult identifying the appropriate disease as well.

The various applications of asbestos allowed for its widespread usage during the last 150 years. Individuals exposed to the dust first hand are at heightened risk of developing related diseases, but those who only had second hand exposure are at risk as well. Once mesothelioma begins to spread throughout the body, options for treatment are drastically reduced.