(855) 575-6376

How Much Exposure to Asbestos Can Cause Mesothelioma?

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on January 28, 2022

Mesothelioma is a terminal type of cancer that is most often caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a dangerous mineral and a known carcinogen. It was once used widely in consumer products and building materials due to its durability and fire-resistant properties. Unfortunately, this places many people at risk of asbestos exposure and related health problems. There is no such thing as a safe amount of asbestos exposure, but asbestos becomes more dangerous with prolonged contact.

What Is the Link Between Asbestos and Mesothelioma?

Asbestos refers to six minerals that occur naturally as fibers that are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals. If asbestos enters the body in any amount, it can cause health problems, including mesothelioma and asbestosis. Inhaling or ingesting even a small number of asbestos fibers can lead to these fibers getting lodged in the inner tissues of the body – most often, the thin lining that surrounds the organs, such as the lungs and heart.

Over time, asbestos fibers that are trapped in the body can irritate the surrounding area and cause scar tissue and inflammation. This can impact a victim’s breathing and ultimately develop into cancerous tumors (mesothelioma). There are four types of mesothelioma based on the part of the body impacted: pleural (the lungs), peritoneal (the abdomen), pericardial (the heart) and testicular (the testes). Asbestos exposure can also cause lung irritation, fluid buildup in the lungs, lung cancer and other health problems.

How Much Asbestos Exposure Causes Cancer?

Asbestos is present in water, soil and even the air. These levels of asbestos are so low, however, that they do not make people ill. Those who suffer health problems from asbestos are typically those who are exposed to these fibers on a regular basis, such as employees with jobs that require contact with asbestos. It is possible, however, to get mesothelioma even with a small level of asbestos exposure. Some of the most common locations where you will find asbestos today are:

  • Older buildings
  • Home renovations
  • Demolition sites
  • Consumer goods
  • Talc-based products
  • Construction sites
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Auto mechanic shops
  • HVAC jobs
  • Shipyards 
  • The military

If you work or are regularly present in any of these locations, you may be at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma. It is possible, however, for a single incident of exposure to result in health problems, especially if the incident is severe. Thousands of citizens and first responders involved in cleanup and recovery after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, for example, are at risk of developing mesothelioma, as an enormous amount of asbestos was released into the atmosphere when the towers went down. Asbestos exposure at any level could potentially have adverse health effects.

How Can You Minimize Your Asbestos Exposure Risk?

If you believe you are at risk of asbestos exposure, you can take steps to minimize the odds of developing mesothelioma. Ask your employer what the company is doing to protect its workers from asbestos. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has safety regulations in place for at-risk workers. Your employer should provide masks and respirators that are rated to prevent the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Do not come home in the same clothing that you wore to work. Shower or change your clothes before you leave and wash your work clothes separately from your other clothes.

What to Do if You’ve Been Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

Asbestos exposure can cause health problems many years later, with most mesothelioma diagnoses occurring decades after contact with asbestos. If you notice any possible symptoms of mesothelioma, such as trouble breathing or chest pain, see a doctor right away. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another illness associated with asbestos, contact an attorney for a free consultation. You may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the person or party who exposed you to asbestos, such as your employer.

Free consultation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.