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Old 02-06-2008, 09:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Rafael7 HB User
Can low levels of asbestos cause mesothelioma?

Information from doctors regarding this seems to be conflicting so i was wondering if anyone had any experience with this.

I was exposed to quite low levels of asbestos on one single occasion. I drilled through a ceiling which contained asbestos, but i didn't know about it till later. I drilled two or three times before i got through but fibres were obviously scattered everywhere. It was a confined space and i was there for probably 5 minutes.

I realise you can never say "never" - but to anyone's knowledge, do i have less, or just as much chance of developing asbestosis or mesothelioma as someone with high levels of exposure?


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Old 02-07-2008, 04:05 PM   #2
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estria HB Userestria HB Userestria HB Userestria HB User
Re: Can low levels of asbestos cause mesothelioma?

Hi Rafael,

I have also been quite concerned about this issue since I recently discovered that the "cement covering" around two feet of hot water pipe in the basement is most likely to be asbestos and it just happens to be cracked in a few places. I have lived in this house for about 5 years and am worried that I may have breathed in asbestos fibres whenever I was in that room. I even spent an entire day in there this past October cleaning things up.

Everything I have read says that a single heavy exposure or longer term lower level exposures are very unlikely to cause disease. Usually the victims of asbestosis and mesothelioma are people who have had long term heavy exposure to asbestos, such as miners, plumbers and others who deal with asbestos through their professions. In addition, EVERYONE is exposed to lower levels of asbestos all of the time. It's in the air, water and all around us in small quantities. It's virtually unavoidable. The body, however, is able to handle certain quantities, especially if it happens to be the most commonly used type of asbestos, chrysotile (supposedly less dangerous than the blue or black asbestos). Some people have even been exposed heavily long term and they never developed lung disease. Mesothelioma is still considered to be a rather rare disease, especially considering how many millions of people have been exposed to asbestos.

My dad has been in contact with asbestos quite frequently through his maintenance work when he was younger and tells me that I need not worry about it. Our contractor has also said the same thing and he has encountered asbestos on the job on several occasions.

One thing though. If you smoke, quit ! I have read that asbestos exposure mixed with smoking has a synergistic effect and increases your risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma by about 70%. This is truly alarming and if I was not already a non smoker, it would make me quit immediately. Remember that it takes decades for illness related to asbestos to manifest itself so quitting now may save your life.

I hope I have helped to put your mind at ease. I really wouldn't worry about it.

Old 02-07-2008, 09:26 PM   #3
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Rafael7 HB User
Re: Can low levels of asbestos cause mesothelioma?

Thanks for that Estria. It's what I thought, but doctors are always reluctant to give you any sort of positive spin (understandably i suppose).

On average, I smoke one cigarrette a day (yes, one, I know that's a bit odd - most people either don't smoke or smoke a lot of ciggies a day). So I think I'll give that up.

Old 02-08-2008, 04:04 AM   #4
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estria HB Userestria HB Userestria HB Userestria HB User
Re: Can low levels of asbestos cause mesothelioma?

Hi Raphael,

Yes unfortunately most doctors will not take the risk of saying anything positive for fear of getting sued later on if anything should indeed happen (you never know .. some people, even if they are not that numerous, do get mesothelioma and lung cancer). I think it would be very prudent to stop smoking. From what I have been reading, we are all exposed to asbestos (and other toxins) without even knowing it. It is everywhere and was used in practically everything at one point .. from floor tiles, ceilings, plasters and textured paints to oven mitts and basically anywhere they needed a fire retardant. Extremely difficult sometimes to recognize and many millions have been exposed without even realizing it.

Why increase your risk of lung cancer for nothing ? Take up chocolate instead .. since you only smoke once a day, having a small bar of chocolate instead will not only replace your daily treat but it will also help control your blood pressure (!) .. it's also cheaper.

Live long and prosper !

Old 02-09-2008, 07:06 AM   #5
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HipsterDoofus HB User
Re: Can low levels of asbestos cause mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is not a disease that you get from one time exposure. You have not increased your risk of getting this disease. People get mesothelioma from chronic long term exposure day after day for decades.

Old 02-10-2008, 01:46 AM   #6
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karrie77 HB User
Re: Can low levels of asbestos cause mesothelioma?

I had a great uncle that passed away from this and was only exposed to asbestos when he was in his 20's for one summer. He died in his 50's.

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