Tuesday, Sept. 26 is Mesothelioma Awareness Day and spreading awareness about the deadly cancer is as vital as ever.
The Mesabi Range is home to naturally occurring asbestos which, traditionally, is used as a construction material. Any building that has been updated within the last decade (or more) has likely gone through the vital but perilous task of removing asbestos which, since the early 1900’s has been commonly used for building insulation.
In its safest form, asbestos is desired for its sound absorption properties, average tensile strength, affordability, and resistance to fire, heat, and electricity. As useful as the mineral sounds, asbestos is the cause of nearly 2,500 deaths a year as a result of Mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is slow developing cancer that occurs when microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed and become lodged in the lungs, heart or abdomen and cause scar tissue to grow. This scar tissue then becomes a high risk area for cancerous cell growth which leads to Mesothelioma cancer.
When used as intended – or left completely alone, asbestos can be safe. But, any sort of agitation will make an unsafe environment which is nearly inevitable with the high abundance of mining in the Mesabi Range as well as its common usage in older buildings. All buildings wear over time and as soon as asbestos is hurt or disturbed it can become airborne. Once it is airborne there is nearly a guarantee of asbestos related health issues, i.e. Mesothelioma.
Surprisingly, asbestos is not fully banned in the United States. There are regulations in place to limit the amount of asbestos used but despite evidence against its use, it is still legally imported and sold as a raw material as well as a part of a variety of different products. It is also not mandatory to have it removed or replaced in older buildings despite an abundance of safer alternatives.
Some statistics about Mesothelioma and asbestos include:
• 3,000 people are diagnosed with Mesothelioma in the USA every year alone.
• 2,500 deaths a year from the disease.
Total estimate of more than 31,000 total mesothelioma-related deaths between years of 1999 and 2010.
• Many experts predict a spike in figures by 2020.
• Average age of a diagnosis is between the ages of 72-75.
• Symptoms can often take anywhere between 20-50 years to fully show, which is often the reason diagnosis age is high.
• Most symptoms are confused and no different than a minor illness and often can be misleading.
• National Cancer Institute study found that 29.3 percent of pleural mesothelioma patients and 21.5 percent of other mesothelioma type patients do not receive cancer therapy.
It is vital that anyone in potential direct contact with asbestos be concerned about Mesothelioma and that is exactly the goal Mesothelioma Awareness Day.
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