Sydney, Australia - Researchers in Western Australia found that if children are exposed to a specific subset of asbestos they are prone to develop a wide variety of diseases and cancers later in life. The study found that those exposed to blue asbestos have an increased chance of developing heart disease, nervous disorders and certain cancers.
The prevailing scientific and medical opinion is that exposure to any form of asbestos leads to an increased possibility of developing mesothelioma cancer, lung cancer or other asbestos-related diseases.
Mesothelioma cancer is the most common disease related to asbestos exposure. Inhaled or ingested asbestos may affect the protective lining or pleura around the lungs, abdominal cavity and heart. Pleural mesothelioma, affecting the lining of the lungs, is the most frequent form of mesothelioma linked to asbestos exposure.
Published on August 9 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, the authors found that data on early childhood exposure to asbestos was lacking and sought to research “cancer and mortality of adults exposed to blue asbestos as children.”
Commonly known as blue asbestos, crocidolite asbestos is a part of amphibole family of asbestos and has a thin, thread-like quality that is highly flexible. Due to this quality, blue asbestos is considered one of the most hazardous forms as it is extremely easy to inhale. Blue asbestos is not as heat resistant as other forms of asbestos and as such was not as widely used in manufacturing.
In the Australian study, researchers looked at health information on the population of Wittenoon, a western town known for its blue asbestos mine. Out of this population, the Wittenoon women had increased rates for mesothelioma cancer, ovarian and brain cancers as compared to the overall female population of Western Australia.
For men, there were increased rates for mesothelioma cancer, leukemia, prostate, brain and colorectal cancers. Further, Wittenoon men had increased rates for circulatory and nervous system diseases.
Virtually the entire population of Wittenoon has been affected by asbestos-related diseases.