Re: Can low levels of asbestos cause mesothelioma?
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.