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Mesothelioma is a rare disease, with about 3,000 new diagnoses in the United States each year. The low incidence rate has led to many mesothelioma misconceptions. Misinformation surrounds the disease and its cause, asbestos.

There are also many myths about treatment and legal options for those affected by mesothelioma. If unconfronted, these misconceptions could harm mesothelioma patients and their loved ones, as well as the general public.

We created a list of common misconceptions about mesothelioma and asbestos. By dispelling these myths, we hope to highlight the dangers of asbestos, the risk of mesothelioma, and the medical and legal options available to those harmed by a dangerous mineral. What you don’t know can hurt you.


01. Mesothelioma Myths

Misconceptions About Mesothelioma as a Condition

The rarity of mesothelioma has led to many misconceptions about the cancer. Myths surround how mesothelioma develops, who is at risk and how it impacts life expectancy. Better awareness of mesothelioma can help the general public recognize and mitigate risk for the disease. It can also help patients better understand their diagnoses.

MYTH: Mesothelioma develops just like any other cancer.

FACT: Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Individuals may inhale or ingest asbestos fibers, which then embed in organ linings. The fibers cause irritation and scarring over time, which may then cause cell mutation and cancer.

Researchers have found a genetic predisposition for mesothelioma in a small percentage of cases.

MYTH: Mesothelioma and asbestosis are the same disease.

FACT: Although mesothelioma and asbestosis are caused by asbestos exposure, they are not the same disease.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the linings of the lungs, abdomen, heart or testicles. Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that develops from scarring of the lung tissue.

Asbestosis is a non-cancerous condition, but it can become more severe over time. Research indicates asbestosis may present before mesothelioma and other asbestos cancers.

MYTH: Mesothelioma is lung cancer and only affects the lungs.

FACT: Mesothelioma is often confused with lung cancer. The most common form, pleural mesothelioma, develops in the lining of the lungs (pleura). However, mesothelioma is not lung cancer and does not only affect the lungs.

It may develop in other parts of the body, including the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), the lining of the heart (pericardium) or the lining of the testicles (tunica vaginalis).

As mesothelioma cancer progresses, it may also spread (metastasize) to other tissues and distant organs.

MYTH: Mesothelioma is the only disease caused by asbestos exposure.

FACT: Asbestos exposure causes diseases besides mesothelioma. Asbestos may cause noncancerous conditions, such as asbestosis, pleural thickening, pleural plaques and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Asbestos exposure has also been linked to several forms of cancer. In addition to mesothelioma, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reports asbestos exposure as a definitive cause of lung cancer, ovarian cancer and laryngeal cancer.

Researchers have also found possible correlations between asbestos exposure and kidney cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer and leukemia. However, more research is needed to understand the correlation.

MYTH: Mesothelioma can lie dormant for many years.

FACT: Mesothelioma does not lie dormant in an individual. However, the biological and physical changes caused by asbestos can take years to develop into mesothelioma.

After an individual inhales or ingests asbestos, the fibers embed in the lining of organs. Over time, the fibers cause irritation and cell mutation. It can take years for enough mutations to accumulate to create mesothelioma cancer.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases have a long latency period. This means there is a time-lapse between exposure to asbestos and the patient presenting symptoms. It can take 10 – 50 years after exposure for a patient to present mesothelioma symptoms.

MYTH: Only older men get mesothelioma.

FACT: Older men are not the only people diagnosed with mesothelioma. Men and women of varying ages can develop mesothelioma.

At the height of asbestos use, industries that frequently used the mineral were predominantly staffed by men. As such, men develop mesothelioma more often than women. However, women develop mesothelioma. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate women accounted for about 25% of new mesothelioma cases from 2013 – 2017.

Younger demographics can also develop mesothelioma. According to data from the CDC, there were 4,815 mesothelioma diagnoses in patients under 55 years old between 1999 and 2016.

MYTH: Only people who work/worked with asbestos get mesothelioma.

FACT: Asbestos exposure most commonly occurs on the job. Many industries used the mineral in their buildings and products. The World Health Organization estimates 125 million workers face asbestos exposure globally each year. As a result, many mesothelioma cases are linked to occupational asbestos exposure.

Although occupational exposure is the most common, individuals may face secondary asbestos exposure. This type of exposure can occur when someone who had direct contact with asbestos brings home the fibers on their clothing or skin. Secondary asbestos exposure can also cause mesothelioma.

MYTH: Only people exposed to asbestos for a long time get mesothelioma.

FACT: Research indicates short-term exposure presents a lower risk. However, researchers have found even one-time exposure to asbestos can lead to diseases such as mesothelioma. No amount of asbestos exposure is considered safe.

The duration and frequency of asbestos exposure can impact an individual’s risk for mesothelioma. Researchers have found long-term exposure is more likely to lead to the development of asbestos diseases.

MYTH: If I am exposed to a very small amount of asbestos, I’m probably still safe.

FACT: Research indicates there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Trace amounts of asbestos in a product can still pose a danger. For instance, asbestos-contaminated talc has been a concern in recent years. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has reported asbestos in various children’s makeup products. In May 2020, Jmkcoz recalled two eyeshadow palettes after 25% and 40% of the shades tested positive for asbestos. These palettes were sold at popular retail stores and online.

MYTH: If I can’t remember being exposed to asbestos, my mesothelioma probably wasn’t caused by asbestos.

FACT: Asbestos is the only definitive cause of mesothelioma.

Many people do not realize they were exposed to asbestos. The fibers are not visible to the human eye and cannot be easily identified. Exposure can also be difficult to recognize in cases of secondhand exposure. This may occur when an individual didn’t directly work with asbestos materials.

An experienced mesothelioma lawyer has access to resources to help patients trace the source of their exposure. They can help asbestos-exposure victims obtain compensation from the responsible party.

MYTH: If I have mesothelioma, my family members or children may also be at risk.

FACT: Family members and children may be at risk if they were also exposed to asbestos. For instance, asbestos workers could unknowingly bring home fibers on their clothing. Family members may have then been exposed and could later develop mesothelioma.

MYTH: Mesothelioma is contagious.

FACT: Mesothelioma is not contagious and cannot spread from person to person. The only definitive cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. As such, mesothelioma patients cannot infect someone else through contact or germs.

However, family members and loved ones should be aware of secondary exposure. When the mesothelioma patient was exposed to asbestos, they may have unknowingly brought home fibers on their clothing. People who came in contact with the patient could have been exposed to asbestos and could later develop mesothelioma.

MYTH: Asbestos fibers can be removed from my lungs.

FACT: Asbestos fibers cannot be removed from the lungs. There are no known treatments or methods that can remove asbestos fibers from the body once they are inhaled or ingested.

The best way to prevent mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases is to avoid asbestos exposure.

MYTH: Smoking causes mesothelioma.

FACT: Smoking is not a cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos is the only definitive cause of the rare cancer.

However, researchers have found smoking can increase an individual’s risk of lung cancer if they have been exposed to asbestos.

MYTH: A mesothelioma diagnosis is an instant death sentence.

FACT: Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, advancements in treatment have helped many patients live longer lives. Patients treated with standard therapies like chemotherapy survive one year on average.

However, newer treatment options have led to improved 5- and 10-year mesothelioma survival rates. For instance, HIPEC (a heated chemotherapy wash) with cytoreductive surgery has shown promise for peritoneal mesothelioma. Some researchers reported 45% of patients survived 10 years or longer after treatment.

Advancements in treatment have also helped pleural mesothelioma patients extend survival. Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2005. Her doctor gave her an initial prognosis of 15 months. After undergoing an extrapleural pneumonectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation, Heather is a survivor of more than 14 years.

MYTH: If my doctor says I have an advanced stage of mesothelioma, I will die quickly.

FACT: Mesothelioma staging can give patients an estimate of life expectancy. However, it is not the only factor that determines how long a patient may live. Researchers base survival estimates on a wide patient population. Each patient’s case is unique, and patients often outlive these survival estimates.

Although staging does not necessarily determine a patient’s life expectancy, it can help doctors determine the best treatment plan. For instance, a doctor may not recommend surgery for a patient with advanced mesothelioma because the cancer has spread.

MYTH: If I have mesothelioma, it’s important that I stay positive all the time.

FACT: A mesothelioma diagnosis will present challenges for the patient and their loved ones. It can feel isolating at times and there are many decisions to make.

Although researchers have found a positive attitude can have an impact, it is not necessary for patients and their families to force positivity. Feeling guilty for not staying positive is unproductive and may create unnecessary stress. Throughout the mesothelioma journey, it’s most important for patients and their loved ones to be kind to themselves.

MYTH: I may have been misdiagnosed with mesothelioma. I should get a second opinion.

FACT: If a general oncologist provided the initial diagnosis, it may be beneficial to seek a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist. General oncologists may not have experience with mesothelioma. However, if an experienced mesothelioma specialist provided the diagnosis, it is likely accurate.

Ultimately, it is up to the patient and their loved ones if they wish to seek a second opinion. However, it is important for patients not to delay treatment if possible. Undergoing early treatment can help patients extend survival.

MYTH: It is very difficult to catch mesothelioma in the early stages.

FACT: Mesothelioma has nonspecific symptoms, meaning they can be mistaken for other health conditions. It also has a long latency period. This means it takes years for a patient to present symptoms after exposure. As a result, it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose mesothelioma in the earlier stages.

However, if an individual is aware of any past asbestos exposure, they should speak to their doctor about their history. Their doctor can help determine options to monitor for any potential signs of mesothelioma and aid early diagnosis.

MYTH: There are no forums or organizations where I can talk to people who understand what it’s like to have mesothelioma.

FACT: Although mesothelioma is rare, there are a variety of support organizations and forums for patients and their loved ones. The mesothelioma community is small but very supportive of patients, caregivers, survivors and anyone else impacted by the rare cancer.

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation offers several support groups and other resources for patients and their families. The American Cancer Society also provides many support services for cancer patients, including in-person and online support groups.

02. Treatment Misconceptions

Misconceptions About Mesothelioma Treatment

There are many misunderstandings about treatment options for mesothelioma, including their effectiveness. However, researchers continue to develop promising treatments that have helped improve patient survival. By learning the truth about these myths, patients and their loved ones can make more informed treatment decisions.

MYTH: There are no good treatment options for mesothelioma.

FACT: Research programs around the world continue to advance mesothelioma treatments. Researchers have been conducting clinical trials to improve standard treatments for mesothelioma, such as surgery and chemotherapy. Researchers are also actively developing new treatments to potentially extend patient survival.

Depending on the type of mesothelioma and other factors, patients may undergo various promising treatments. For example, peritoneal mesothelioma patients may be eligible for a heated chemotherapy wash called HIPEC. Some researchers have reported 10-year survival rates of 45% for patients treated with HIPEC and surgery.

Because treatments like HIPEC have shown success in extending survival, some studies have started including 10-year survival rates. This means some study participants are living 10 years or longer after their diagnoses.

MYTH: Chemotherapy is the only treatment option for mesothelioma.

FACT: Chemotherapy is a standard treatment option for mesothelioma, but it is not the only treatment option. Depending on an individual’s case, doctors may recommend a variety of therapies. Treatments may be therapeutic or administered to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Treatments may also be palliative, offering symptom relief.

Treatment options for mesothelioma include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Cryotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy

In many cases, doctors may recommend multimodal treatment (a combination of two or more therapies).

MYTH: Chemotherapy will only make me sicker.

FACT: There are many different types of chemotherapy drugs and they each have their own side effects. However, the benefits of chemotherapy can outweigh the negative side effects and ultimately offer patients a better quality of life.

For example, heated intracavitary chemotherapy may be an option for many patients. With this type of treatment, chemotherapy drugs remain within one region of the body. Because the chemotherapy does not enter the bloodstream, it causes far fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy. This type of treatment is available as HIPEC or HITHOC for peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma patients, respectively.

Many patients treated with surgery and HIPEC or HITHOC go on to live healthy, active lives, years after their mesothelioma diagnosis. In a recent study, more than 50% of patients treated with HIPEC survived for more than five years after treatment. In another study, more than 50% of patients treated with HITHOC survived for more than two years after treatment.

For comparison, mesothelioma patients who do not undergo treatment live for about six months after diagnosis. Thus, chemotherapy does not necessarily make mesothelioma patients sicker, and it can improve survival.

MYTH: Alternative treatments cannot help mesothelioma.

FACT: Alternative treatments have not proven effective as a primary treatment option for mesothelioma. In most cases, patients use alternative therapies to complement their primary treatment.

Research indicates alternative therapies may help patients manage side effects and improve their moods. For instance, some researchers reported acupuncture as an effective palliative treatment for patients experiencing difficulty breathing.

MYTH: Insurance or Medicare/Medicaid will cover my treatment costs.

FACT: A mesothelioma diagnosis can lead to many unexpected costs, which may not be covered by insurance or Medicare/Medicaid. For instance, some patients will need to travel to receive treatment from a mesothelioma specialist. As such, they can face additional costs such as lodging for themselves and loved ones.

In some cases of advanced mesothelioma, patients and their families may also consider in-home nursing or long-term residential care. Insurance may not be enough to cover all of these costs. Many mesothelioma patients and their families also face loss of income, as the patient may no longer be able to work.

There are financial assistance options available for mesothelioma patients. Patients and loved ones may be eligible to file a compensation claim against the party responsible for asbestos exposure. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can determine eligibility and the best compensation option for an individual’s case.

MYTH: If I undergo pleurocentesis or paracentesis, I will not have to do it again.

FACT: Pleurocentesis is a palliative surgery for pleural mesothelioma. The procedure removes excess fluid from the lungs. Paracentesis is a similar palliative procedure for peritoneal mesothelioma. The procedure drains excess fluid from the abdominal cavity. Doctors will perform the appropriate surgery based on where the excess fluid accumulates.

Fluid buildup is a common symptom in mesothelioma patients. Excess fluid in the lungs or abdomen can cause pain and difficulty breathing. These procedures can provide temporary symptom relief by draining the excess fluid.

Patients should note the fluid buildup can recur. In these cases, doctors may recommend pleurocentesis and paracentesis multiple times to relieve symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life. The frequency of these surgeries will vary on a case-by-case basis.

MYTH: Mesothelioma cannot be cured.

FACT: There is no cure for mesothelioma. However, treatments continue to improve and have enabled some patients to extend survival. Researchers continue to test new treatments and combinations in the hopes of finding a cure.

In some cases, treatments have been so effective that doctors may consider patients in remission. For instance, pleural mesothelioma survivor Heather Von St. James had an initial prognosis of 15 months. After undergoing multimodal treatment, Heather has survived more than 14 years. Her biannual scans have shown no evidence of mesothelioma.

MYTH: It is very difficult to get into a clinical trial.

FACT: Mesothelioma clinical trials are ongoing around the world. There are currently more than 160 active and recruiting mesothelioma clinical trials.

Even though mesothelioma is rare, many patients are able to participate in clinical trials. Researchers want more participants because it can help them better understand the efficacy of the treatment and trends among a more diverse set of patients.

Researchers are also working to be more inclusive. Some clinical trials have broader eligibility requirements that allow for more participants. An oncologist can advise mesothelioma patients on the best clinical trial for their individual situation and how to participate.

03. Legal Action Misconceptions

Misconceptions About Legal Action for Mesothelioma

Some patients have reservations about pursuing legal action because of misconceptions, such as how long a legal claim can take and the cost of filing a claim. With a better understanding of legal options and the filing process, patients and their loved ones can make more informed decisions about pursuing legal action.

Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones have legal rights and may be eligible for different types of compensation. Each type of compensation offers different benefits to patients.

MYTH: Pursuing legal action will take years and may not result in a payout. I don’t have time for a lawsuit.

FACT: Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones may be eligible for different legal claim options. A lawsuit is not the only avenue to receive compensation.

For instance, some claimants may be eligible to get a payout from an asbestos trust fund. These funds are created by responsible asbestos companies and have a standardized filing process. This process allows claimants to receive payouts sooner. In some cases, claimants may receive payouts within a few months.

For those who do pursue a mesothelioma lawsuit, the amount of time it takes to receive a payout varies. The process can take several months or longer. In some cases, the lawsuit will be settled before reaching a trial. This can allow for a faster payout than concluding a trial.

Before pursuing any legal action, it’s important to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain your eligibility for different types of claims and the best option for receiving compensation. For instance, people who can trace a clear source of asbestos exposure are likely to obtain a settlement or verdict should they pursue a lawsuit.

MYTH: I will have to testify in court if I pursue legal action.

FACT: Many people do not need to testify in court when pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit. Often, claims reach a settlement before going to court. If a claim does reach trial, an experienced lawyer can advise patients and loved ones on whether or not they need to testify. Your lawyer may also be able to appear in court on your behalf.

MYTH: My friends, neighbors and/or coworkers will know I sued. I could be in the newspaper.

FACT: In most cases, claimants do not have to worry about anyone knowing they pursued legal action. Many settlements contain confidentiality clauses.

However, if claimants file a trust fund claim, certain information may be available to the public. A lawyer can help plaintiffs understand confidentiality clauses and whether or not they can maintain privacy throughout the legal process.

MYTH: If I pursue legal action, that makes me a litigious person. I am not a litigious person.

FACT: Most people aren’t comfortable with pursuing legal action against a business. Frivolous lawsuits have given fair litigation a bad name. However, asbestos companies should be held accountable for their wrongdoings.

Mesothelioma patients were wrongfully exposed to asbestos. Many companies knowingly put workers’ lives at risk to make a profit. Their actions also put workers’ families at risk through secondhand exposure.

In addition to holding these companies accountable, victims pursuing legal actions drove the asbestos regulations we have today. These laws help protect workers and the public from continued asbestos exposure.

Lawsuits also help asbestos-exposure victims receive financial compensation for the harm caused by an employer. Mesothelioma diagnoses can lead to many costs. Typically, insurance does not cover all of these expenses. Legal action can help patients and their loved ones recover these expenses and receive reparations for the pain and suffering caused by the diagnosis.

MYTH: The companies that exposed me to asbestos did not know the risks.

FACT: Court documents and witness testimony in various lawsuits indicate most companies responsible for asbestos exposure knew the risks. Because asbestos was cost-effective, many companies continued to knowingly put their workers in danger for a better profit.

An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help claimants determine what an employer knew about asbestos and its dangers.

MYTH: I will cause trouble for an employer who has been very good to me.

FACT: Depending on your individual situation, you may not take legal action directly against your employer. In some cases, a claimant is seeking legal recourse against another company that supplied or manufactured asbestos products.

If an employer was responsible for asbestos exposure, the claimant shouldn’t feel guilty about causing trouble. An employer who knowingly exposed employees to asbestos despite its dangers is not a good employer. This shows the employer valued making a profit over the wellbeing of their workers. These employers should be held accountable for their actions.

MYTH: If the company responsible for my asbestos exposure has gone bankrupt or been acquired, I have no legal options.

FACT: Mesothelioma patients and loved ones still have legal options if the company responsible for exposure has closed or been acquired.

Many companies that went bankrupt were required to set up asbestos trust funds as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. These funds ensure eligible current and future claimants can receive compensation. There are currently more than 65 active trust funds with more than $30 billion set aside. Eligible claimants can file against one or more asbestos trust funds to receive compensation.

In instances of acquisition, claimants may be able to seek legal action against the parent company.

A mesothelioma lawyer can help claimants in these situations determine their claim options.

MYTH: If I sue, I will lose my pension.

FACT: There are laws in place to help protect individuals’ pensions. Claimants will not lose their pension if they pursue a lawsuit.

MYTH: I am a veteran with mesothelioma. This means I will have to sue the military if I choose legal action.

FACT: Veterans who pursue legal action are not filing a claim against the military or government. Instead, veterans file claims against the manufacturers of the asbestos materials that caused exposure.

An experienced lawyer can research the veterans’ exposure history to determine the appropriate defendant for their legal claim.

MYTH: It will be very expensive for me to pursue legal action.

FACT: Trustworthy mesothelioma law firms offer free consultations and take cases on a contingency basis. This means a claimant will not owe any money upfront to pursue a legal claim. The law firm only gets paid if you win the claim. A percentage of the award is typically agreed upon by the law firm and claimant.

MYTH: Filing a lawsuit will cost more than I could possibly make from it. It’s just not worth my time.

FACT: Many mesothelioma law firms take cases on contingency. This means the law firm will only receive payment if they win the client compensation.

Compensation awards vary depending on the type of claim. Mealey’s Asbestos Litigation reports the average mesothelioma settlement is between $1 – $1.4 million. The average mesothelioma lawsuit verdict is $2.4 million.

An experienced lawyer can help a claimant understand their claim options and the best avenue to receive compensation. They can also give the claimant an idea of how long the claim process could take. If an individual decides to move forward with a claim, the lawyer can handle the entire filing process.

MYTH: It is too late for me to file a lawsuit because I was exposed so many years ago.

FACT: Courts recognize it can be difficult to identify the specific date of asbestos exposure. As a result, mesothelioma statutes of limitations apply to the claimant’s date of diagnosis rather than date of exposure. These deadlines are typically between one and four years after diagnosis but vary by state.

A lawyer can advise a claimant about the legal deadlines applicable for their claim.

MYTH: Lawyers are only out for themselves and just want to make money.

FACT: Most lawyers in the mesothelioma space are genuinely invested in helping patients and their loved ones. A trustworthy lawyer will invest time and effort into helping the client beyond just winning them compensation.

Experienced lawyers offer additional support for the patient. Mesothelioma law firms also have connections with top doctors and cancer centers. They can help patients find the best care possible.

Mesothelioma lawyers are also active within the larger mesothelioma community. They help raise awareness and donate to support research. For instance, the law firm of Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney & Meisenkothen donates to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, the International Mesothelioma Program and other organizations to help advance research.

MYTH: Websites that offer free guides are non-profits.

FACT: Most websites offering a free guide are sponsored by a law firm. Nonprofits in the mesothelioma community typically do not offer free guides.

The law firms and people behind websites offering free guides are invested in the mesothelioma community. These individuals are genuinely interested in helping patients and their loved ones understand their diagnosis, treatment options and legal remedies.

04. Asbestos Misconceptions

Misconceptions About Asbestos

Many people know asbestos is a mineral that poses a danger to their health. However, there are many misconceptions around its use, where it can be found and who is at risk of exposure. Debunking these misconceptions can help individuals prevent asbestos exposure and decrease new cases of asbestos-related diseases.

MYTH: Asbestos is banned in the United States.

FACT: Asbestos has not yet been fully banned in the United States. Many other countries also still legally allow the use of the mineral.

In the United States, there are state and federal laws that restrict the use of asbestos. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to fully ban the mineral. The law was overturned in 1991. Instead of a complete ban, the legislation only restricted new products containing asbestos. Today, only certain products with historic asbestos use can contain up to 1% of asbestos. Brake pads, gaskets, roofing materials and fireproof clothing are some products that can still legally contain asbestos today.

MYTH: Asbestos is only found in really old buildings.

FACT: At the height of its use, asbestos was popular across many industries. The mineral was found in more than 3,000 products. Construction materials, such as insulation and roofing, were among the most common to contain asbestos.

Today, old uses of asbestos may still linger in buildings and homes constructed before 1980. But the mineral has also been found in a variety of other products. In recent years, asbestos-contaminated talc has led to the recall of Johnson & Johnson baby powder and makeup palettes from various brands.

MYTH: People are unlikely to encounter asbestos in the present day.

FACT: Asbestos is not yet banned in the United States, and it can still legally be found in certain products. Past uses of the mineral also linger, presenting a continued risk for exposure.

Common places asbestos may still be present include:

  • Homes, schools and other buildings built before 1980
  • Military bases
  • Navy ships and shipyards
  • Worksites, such as factories, power plants, oil refineries and automotive shops

Occupational asbestos exposure continues to be a danger, particularly in certain industries, such as construction. This can also pose a risk for workers’ loved ones if they unknowingly bring asbestos fibers home on their person.

MYTH: I suspect there is asbestos in my home and should remove it.

FACT: Homeowners who suspect their homes contain asbestos should hire a qualified abatement professional to inspect the home. They can take samples to test for asbestos and can make recommendations for any next steps.

If the asbestos is in good condition, abatement professionals may recommend encapsulating the materials. In other cases, the abatement company may recommend removing the asbestos materials. Professionals will know the local and state laws to properly remove and dispose of asbestos while keeping the homeowner and general public safe.

Homeowners should not attempt to remove asbestos on their own. If products containing the mineral become disturbed, fibers can become airborne and expose the people removing the materials.

MYTH: I can remove asbestos myself because a mask will protect me. And I can simply wet down the asbestos to keep it safe.

FACT: Uncertified individuals should never attempt to remove asbestos on their own. Typically, wearing a mask will not provide sufficient protection against exposure if fibers become airborne. Wetting asbestos materials can help prevent fibers from becoming airborne. However, simply wetting the materials is not enough to safely remove asbestos.

Only qualified asbestos abatement professionals should handle asbestos materials. They have the experience, knowledge and protective equipment necessary to safely remove and dispose of the dangerous mineral.

MYTH: Asbestos is only found in insulation. I don’t need to worry about it unless I am working with insulation.

FACT: At the height of asbestos use, more than 3,000 products contained the mineral. Though its use is more restricted today, certain products can still contain up to 1% of asbestos, including gaskets and brake pads.

Asbestos was a common additive to insulation but was also popular in other building materials. Other building materials that contained asbestos include:

  • Boilers
  • Drywall
  • Linoleum
  • Flooring glue
  • Roofing
  • Acoustic tiles
  • Shingles
  • Wires

Many old uses of asbestos still linger in homes and buildings today. Individuals should talk to an asbestos professional to determine if and where asbestos exists in a home or building.

MYTH: There is only one type of asbestos.

FACT: Asbestos is a group of six silicate minerals. The six types of asbestos are chrysotile, actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite and tremolite.

Each type is categorized into two main mineral families: serpentine or amphibole. The difference between these mineral families is the appearance of the fibers. Serpentine asbestos fibers are long, curly and pliable. Amphibole asbestos fibers are short, straight and needle-like.

All types of asbestos are considered dangerous.

MYTH: Chrysotile asbestos is not dangerous.

FACT: Chrysotile asbestos is the only type categorized under the serpentine asbestos family. Some researchers suggested amphibole asbestos may be more dangerous than chrysotile asbestos. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported amphibole fibers can stay in the lungs longer.

However, research indicates that all types of asbestos are dangerous and may lead to diseases such as mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare disease, with about 3,000 new diagnoses in the United States each year. The low incidence rate has led to many mesothelioma misconceptions. Misinformation surrounds the disease and its cause, asbestos.

There are also many myths about treatment and legal options for those affected by mesothelioma. If unconfronted, these misconceptions could harm mesothelioma patients and their loved ones, as well as the general public.

We created a list of common misconceptions about mesothelioma and asbestos. By dispelling these myths, we hope to highlight the dangers of asbestos, the risk of mesothelioma, and the medical and legal options available to those harmed by a dangerous mineral. What you don’t know can hurt you.

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