Living near a facility that uses asbestos can increase your chances of getting mesothelioma. This is the finding of a study published in Cancer Science by researchers from Japan.
The researchers looked at people who lived near a large-scale asbestos-cement plant in Amagasaki, Japan.
History of Asbestos Use
Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that can be found throughout the world. It is often used in manufacturing and construction because it is hard to set on fire and nearly impossible to corrode. It is also inexpensive to use because it does not have to be synthesized in a factory.
Asbestos is also toxic and causes cancer in humans who breathe it in. It can cause mesothelioma, which is a cancer that grows in the lining of internal organs like the lungs. Mesothelioma has a poor prognosis and is difficult to treat.
Even though many countries have banned the use of asbestos, there are still places in the world where it is used in manufacturing. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency passed the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule in 1989. This was meant to ban the use of asbestos in the United States. Unfortunately, this law was overturned in 1991 and asbestos products are still imported to the United States today.
Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The researchers in this study looked at the 144,000 people who lived near an asbestos-cement plant in Japan between 1975 and 2002.
They found 133 cases of people who were diagnosed with mesothelioma. These people were compared to a similar group who did not have mesothelioma.
The researchers asked people about their exposure to asbestos at work, at home, and in their neighborhoods. They found that people who lived closer to the factory and for a longer time had a higher chance of getting sick. This risk was the same for men and women.
This study shows that even if a person does not work with asbestos, they can still get sick if they lived near a place that used asbestos.
Kitamura Y, Zha L, Liu R, et al. Association of mesothelioma deaths with the neighborhood asbestos exposure due to a large-scale asbestos-cement plant [published online ahead of print, 2023 Apr 3]. Cancer Sci. 2023;10.1111/cas.15802. doi:10.1111/cas.15802. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cas.15802