Most people have heard of the toxic substance known as asbestos – and mesothelioma, the deadly form of cancer that it causes. A common misconception, however, is that the only people in danger of contracting this disease are those who come into direct and regular contact with asbestos insulation or other asbestos products as part of their work.
In reality, more segments of the population are exposed to asbestos in their daily lives than people realize.
All branches of the military have had heavy exposure to asbestos in the past. People who have served in the Navy in particular have suffered and continue to suffer high cases of mesothelioma due to the common use of asbestos on Navy ships in the past.
Even today, members of the armed forces that serve overseas – in countries where asbestos use as insulation in buildings is still common – come into contact with asbestos at much higher rates than most civilians.
Women and teenage girls
Many types of makeup and cosmetics are made with talc, an ingredient that can contain traces of asbestos. Despite decades of advocacy against its use, talc continues to be a common ingredient not only in cosmetics, but also in baby powder, foot powder, and intimate hygiene products for women.
The amount of asbestos in a single jar of makeup is minimal. However, teenage girls often start using makeup from a young age, and the continued exposure over the course of several years has a cumulative effect.
Those that work with building materials
In addition to the above groups, people with the most risk of asbestos exposure are those who work with building materials. This group primarily consists of construction workers, but it also extends to plumbers, electricians, demolition experts, brick masons, and others.
Since asbestos most often exists in the walls and roof of older buildings, anyone who works in these buildings could suffer exposure. The danger is especially high if they are working behind the drywall and paneling of the walls and roof.
The disregard of anti-asbestos safety measures has caused the suffering and death of millions of Americans since the harm of asbestos was first discovered in the 1950s. Unfortunately, some groups are more exposed than others to this toxic substance, and all too often mesothelioma is the tragic result of this exposure.