Occupational Lung Diseases: Causes
Mesothelioma, Asbestosis, Silicosis, Pneumconiosis,Byssinosis

Lung diseases like Mesothelioma, Asbestosis, Byssinosis (brown lung disease), Coal Worker’s Pneumconiosis (black lung disease) and Industrial Bronchitis are some of the leading work-related illnesses in the USA, UK, and other parts of the developed world. Sometimes an occupational lung disease can take upto 50 years to develop. Recently cases have come to light of entire families contracting lung cancer and mesothelioma from long term exposure to asbestos.These diseases are the result of inhalation of hazardous substances. Any worker exposed to harmful substances should take out a hazardous material insurance to safeguard himself and his family.  

The lungs can be affected by substances present in the air of some workplace environments. Although the lungs can withstand short-term exposure to hazardous substances, exposure over a sustained period is dangerous. Only particles smaller than 0.005 mm in diameter - small enough to reach the narrowest air passages and alveoli in the lungs, will cause damage.

However, because they cannot be expelled from the system, they build up over a lengthe of time. Eventually, they cause thickening and scarring of lung tissue, and may turn into life-threatening conditions.

Asbestos is one of the greatest hazards in these work-related deaths in the developed world. Asbestos fibers are needle shaped, so they are drawn deep into the lungs, when inhaled, and can pierce the lung tissue. They are divided into three main types, all of which are dangerous, white, blue and brown. The white fibers are the ones found in the asbestos commonly used for commercial purposes, but the blue and brown fibers, although less common are more dangerous.

The statistics are frightening. Every year, as many as 65,000 American workers develop pulmonary disorders related to their workplace environment. Around 25,000 die every year from such diseases. Up to 3500 workers in the UK die of Mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases.

These diseases fall under the umbrella classification of ‘Occupational Lung Diseases’, and include Silicosis and Occupational Asthma, in addition to Mesothelioma, Asbestosis, Diffuse Pleural Thickening, Coal Worker’s Pneumcontiosis (black lung disease), Byssinosis (brown lung disease) and Industrial Bronchitis.

Asbestosis: Asbestosis is a condition caused by inhalation of asbestos particles in the air which may take as long as 30 years to develop. Long term exposure to asbestos results in asbestos fibers accumulating around the ends of the bronchioles in the lungs. The lungs deal with these foreign bodies by trying to contain them within scar tissue. However, in the process the lung tissue itself thickens and loses elasticity.

Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. In its most common form fluid accumulates between the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. It is primarily caused by work-related asbestos exposure and has a latency period of up to 75 years. It is estimated that 10,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the industrialized countries. Although most often seen as a tumor that grows from the pleura, in about 20% of cases of mesothelioma the tumor arises from the peritoneum.
A cancer of the pleura, the sac that envelopes the lungs, (or of the peritoneum), Mesothelioma is responsible for about 10% of the fatalities that occur due to working in an asbestos infested environment. Many studies have established a relationship between malignant pleural mesothelioma and long term exposure to asbestos. This link is further substantiated by the fact that almost 70-80% of those afflicted with Mesothelioma have a history of exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma occurs most often from working with blue or brown asbestos fibers.
The mesothelial cells around the heart, lungs or abdominal organs are affected. The most common type of mesothelioma is the one which affects the pleura, the thin membrane between the lungs and the chest cavity. This type of the disease is known as Pleural Mesothelioma, and victims experience symptoms which include: shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, persistent coughing, chest pains, weight loss, and difficulty with swallowing.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma is another form of this disease but is not as common as Pleural Mesothelioma. This type of the disease affects the peritoneum membrane of the abdomen. These tumors can also be found in the stomach and abdominal organs. Sufferers of Peritoneal Mesothelioma can experience symptoms which include: stomach pains and abdominal swelling, nausea, loss if appetite, vomiting, bowel obstruction, and blood clotting abnormalities.

The third and the rarest type of mesothelioma is Pericardial Mesothelioma, which affects the tissue and cavity surrounding the heart. Patients of this type of the disease may show symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pains, persistent coughing and palpitations.

However, about a quarter of all mesothelioma are benign, and are not caused by asbestos. Benign mesothelioma has been linked to hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), a disorder of excessive insulin action.

Despite the use of protective clothing and other preventative measures, the incidence of mesothelioma has been on the rise. Apart from workplace air in certain situations becoming polluted by asbestos particles, even living in the vicinity of asbestos can spell danger to health. A recent study conducted in California found that people who live near rocks containing asbestos may have
a greater risk of contracting mesothelioma.

Researchers from Harvard and the University of California at Davis examined almost 3,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the state between 1988 and 1997.

They compared them with 3,000 cases of pancreatic cancer matched for age, sex and other characteristics. The survey found that the mesothelioma victims were more likely to live near ultramafic rock, a type of rock that is likely to contain asbestos. The same association was not shown with pancreatic cancer. The researchers say that cancer risk appears to drop by 6.3 % for every 10 Km (6 miles) of distance away from rocks where asbestos occurs naturally.

There is a simple natural therapy to fight cancer but drug manufacturers' intense lobbying has ensured that North America is kept in the dark about this therapy.

Diffuse Pleural Thickening: This is also caused by exposure to asbestos. In fact, pleural thickening may develop after even a brief period of exposure to asbestos.

Byssinosis: Known commonly as the brown lung disease, Byssinosis is caused
by inhaling dust and fibers from hemp, flax and cotton processing.

Coal Worker’s Pneumconiosis : Also known as black lung disease, this condition is caused by mineral dust thrown into the closed environment of a coal mine by the industrial processes used to generate coal.

However, there are other forms of pneumconiosis caused by dusts containing beryllium (used in high-tech industries), kaolin (china clay processing), slate, shale or haematite (iron ore mining).

Silicosis: Silicosis is caused by inhalation of particles of crystalline quartz, also known as free silica. Crystalline silica is considered to be a human carcinogen and is capable of causing this potentially-fatal fibrotic lung disease. It can take up to 20 years for silicosis to develop.

Crystalline silica is also a component in volcanic ash, which is normally present as the polymorphs quartz, cristobalite or tridymite. Accordingly, researchers have been studying the effects of volcanic ash on the lungs. Recent work on the Soufriere Hills volcanic ash (in Montserrat, West Indies) has shown that ash derived from dome-collapse eruptions contained substantial quantities of respirable cristobalite .

Cristobalite is considered to have a greater potential to cause lung disease than the more common silica polymorph, quartz.

The analysis of the surface reactivity of volcanic ash is a new field of volcanic health hazard research being pioneered using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy at the Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy.

Another research team examined possible mechanisms of crystalline silica poisoning through the generation of free and surface radicals from volcanic ash particles. Their findings show that respirable volcanic ash is capable of generating hydroxyl radicals which, in the lung, are capable of causing DNA damage and inflammation which, in turn, can lead to lung disease. The ash may be potentially harmful due to the presence of Fe2. Iron, present on the surface of particles, is capable of catalysing reactions and producing free radicals.

Occupational Asthma: Occupational Asthma condition occurs when someone with asthma is exposed to substances in the workplace that can trigger an asthma attack. Up to 5% of people who have asthma have to face this problem in the workplace.

Industrial Bronchitis: Industrial bronchitis is an inflammation of the air passages that afflicts coal miners and workers in workplace situations that would make them vulnerable to black and brown lung diseases. Industrial bronchitis may also develop from exposure to certain chemicals.

There is a simple natural cancer fighting therapy but drug manufacturers' intense lobbying has ensured that North America is kept in the dark about it.


Symptoms of Mesothelioma & Occupational Lung Diseases
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma & Occupational Lung Diseases
Treatment of Mesothelioma & Occupational Lung Diseases
Prognosis of Mesothelioma & Occupational Lung Diseases
Prevention of Mesothelioma & Occupational Lung Diseases
Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment Centers

Mesothelioma & Lung Cancer Articles

Asbestos and Lung Cancer
Asbestos-the Silent Killer
Early detection of the disease is the key
Mesothelioma Cancer Early Warning Signs
Three main symptoms to lung cancer
What is Mesothelioma Lung Cancer
What You Need To Know About Lung Cancer
Mesothelioma Treatment Options



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