Homes with loose-fill asbestos double the risk of mesothelioma

A groundbreaking study looks at the risks of mesothelioma among residents of homes with asbestos insulation.

Mesothelioma is widely viewed as an occupational disease, especially for those whose jobs have put them in regular contact with asbestos. However, while certain workers are certainly at an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma, it is important to remember that asbestos has been used not just in the workplace but also as insulation in people's homes. A landmark study recently published in The Lancet looked into whether people who live in homes with loose-fill asbestos were at an increased risk of mesothelioma. The study is one of the only to show how hazardous asbestos is when used outside of the workplace.

Asbestos in the home

The study in question focused on people who live in homes with loose-fill asbestos in Canberra, Australia. While the study focused exclusively on Australian residents, it has implications for those living in North America. That's because asbestos has been used as an insulating material in millions of homes around the world, including throughout the United States and Canada.

The researchers looked at data of more than a million people who lived in Canberra between 1983 and 2013. More than 17,000 people were identified as living in homes with loose-fill asbestos and 285 of those people were eventually diagnosed with mesothelioma. As Science Daily reports, the study found that while none of the women were diagnosed with mesothelioma, the rate of mesothelioma among men who lived in houses insulated with loose-fill asbestos was 2.5 times higher than normal. The study also found that colorectal cancer rates were also much higher for people living in loose-fill asbestos houses.

Looking beyond the workplace

This was the first time that the risk of exposure to loose-fill asbestos in the home had been studied scientifically. Most studies into asbestos exposure have focused on high-risk occupations. Indeed, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute lists only those who worked in certain industries - such as miners, mechanics, construction workers, and electricians - and their family members as being at an increased risk of asbestos-related lung disease.

However, the above study shows that even those who do not necessarily work in a setting with high exposure to asbestos are still at a heightened risk of mesothelioma. While the results don't suggest that those who live in a home with loose-fill asbestos have the same risk of developing mesothelioma as those who work in industrial environments with constant exposure to asbestos, it does show that the risk to those who live in such homes is still high enough that it needs to be taken seriously.

Mesothelioma law

Mesothelioma can take decades to be diagnosed, but when it is the news is often devastating for victims and their families. In many cases, compensation is available for victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. An attorney who has a successful record representing mesothelioma victims can help clients who are enduring this difficult disease understand what compensation may be available and how to go about making a claim.