Not every person exposed to asbestos develops illnesses like mesothelioma. Several factors can make one person more likely to develop asbestos-related conditions than other people.
Level of exposure
Whether someone develops an illness like mesothelioma depends on their level of asbestos exposure.
For instance, someone with brief, infrequent exposure to small amounts of the fiber will generally have a lower risk than someone with long-term exposure to high concentrations of asbestos.
People with mesothelioma often worked in jobs where they breathed in asbestos every day for years. They might also have lived near asbestos mines for most of their lives.
In other words, while no amount of asbestos is safe, higher exposure levels can be more likely to cause serious illnesses.
Lifestyle and personal habits
Certain behaviors can also increase the chances of developing an illness after exposure to asbestos. For instance, individuals who smoked and were exposed to asbestos have a greater chance of developing certain types of lung cancer.
Having a pre-existing lung disease can also increase a person’s risk, as can failing to wear protective gear when working with asbestos-containing products. People who wear face respirators while working on cars or doing home construction projects can have a lower risk of breathing in toxic asbestos.
Researchers have identified a link between a genetic mutation and an increased susceptibility to mesothelioma. So far, scientists have identified BLM and BAP1 mutations that make someone more likely to develop mesothelioma.
Therefore, someone born with this mutation can be at a higher risk.
Reducing your risk
Knowing what factors can make someone more susceptible to asbestos-related illnesses is crucial. This awareness can help people make decisions to protect themselves. Steps to take might include:
- Changing jobs
- Undergoing genetic testing
- Having regular screenings
- Wearing protective gear when working around asbestos
- Quitting smoking
These measures alone may not completely eliminate the risk of an asbestos illness. However, they can benefit individuals by reducing their heightened susceptibility.