There are six different types of asbestos, each of which has been found to cause mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer infecting the lining of the lungs, heart, and chest cavity. A recent study in Germany examined the effects of differing asbestos exposure and how mesothelioma develops in the body. Researchers found that, despite the unique physical and chemical attributes of each type, asbestos fibers of any type can remain lodged in the body for decades.
Of the six types of asbestos, the most common by far is chrysotile, which is more flexible than the others. It has a serpentine shape, with curly fibers comprising of sheets of crystals. The other five varieties collectively account for only 10 percent of asbestos used commercially throughout the world. Three of these, crocidolite, amosite, and tremolite, are amphiboles and have fibers that are long, straight, and sharp.
Microscopic asbestos fibers can be inhaled or ingested and become lodged in the pleura, the lining which protects the lungs. Fibers can remain in the pleura for decades, causing surrounding tissue to become scarred and inflamed. Eventually, serious respiratory conditions such as mesothelioma or lung cancer can develop. This ability to remain in the body for long periods of time is called biopersistence; the study in Germany is the first to examine the biopersistence of asbestos in humans over time.
Researchers Compared Biopersistence of Varieties of Asbestos
The research team from Ruhr-University Bochum compared data from 12 patients out of the 23,955 listed in the German Mesothelioma Register. Researchers were looking for patients who had had multiple biopsies at least four years apart, had records of previous asbestos fiber measurements, and presented with at least 500 fibers of asbestos per gram of lung tissue. The median time lapse between biopsies was eight years, with 21 years being the longest interval. The longest latency period between asbestos exposure and the appearance of mesothelioma was 37 years, which is consistent with the typical pattern of the disease.
The biopsies showed that the amount of asbestos fibers present in the tissue samples did not diminish over the years. Furthermore, the results were consistent across all types of asbestos, including chrysotile. Two-thirds of the tissue samples showed a high concentrations of chrysotile fibers, which contrasts with other studies showing a reduction of chrysotile; the German researchers attribute this to studies taking place shortly after asbestos exposure.
Asbestos takes its name from an ancient Greek word meaning “imperishable.” The study reveals that all six types of asbestos show similar biopersistence. The biopersistence of chrysotile is particularly troubling, as it is much more common than other types. More research is needed to determine why the body cannot eliminate these particles and how they cause changes in pleural tissue that leads to mesothelioma. Mesothelioma patients may not experience symptoms until long after their asbestos exposure, often after they have retired from high-risk careers. By the time the disease is diagnosed, patients face few treatment options and a short life expectancy.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Fight for Asbestos Exposure VictimsIf you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, call the Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. Our knowledgeable, experienced legal team is dedicated to obtaining the compensation you deserve for your asbestos exposure. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we help asbestos exposure victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) or contact us online to speak to a skilled member of our legal team.