During a period of time lasting nearly 40 years (1940-1979), it is estimated that roughly 230,000 deaths were caused by asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.
During this time, more than 30 million tons of asbestos was used in U.S. homes, schools and commercial buildings, as well as in the industrial sector including power plants, shipyards, and steel mills. While this hazardous substance is currently banned in countries such as Australia , Argentina , Chile , Croatia , and Saudi Arabia , several countries such as Russia and Canada still mine asbestos. In the United States , the substance is strictly regulated, but it is not totally banned.
So unfortunately, today in the U.S. , nearly 10,000 asbestos-related deaths still occur each year, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). While asbestos is no longer a common building material in the U.S. , this dangerous substance can still be found in thousands of different products and materials. Keep in mind that asbestos was used in more than 3,000 products from 1900-1980.
Asbestos can be found in everything from asphalt, boilers, cable, and clay to sheets, vinyl floor tile, wick, and yarn. Wick is a woven piece of cord that has several different descriptions and many different uses. In the medical field, wick can be used to convey liquid by capillary action. In the world of home accessories, it can be used to draw fuel by capillary action up into a flame, as is the case with candles or oil lamps. In gardening, wick can also be used to draw nutrients to a plant’s roots through capillary action in hydroponic systems. Inhaling the fibers or dust associated with asbestos-containing wick can cause mesothelioma.
The period between the time of exposure to asbestos via wick (or any other asbestos-containing products) and the onset of symptoms is estimated at 20 to 50 years. Because of this, most mesothelioma cases are diagnosed later in life. Signs of mesothelioma include shortness of breath or dyspnea, a build-up of too much fluid between the pleura (the linings of the lungs and chest) called pleural effusion, and pain in the chest, abdomen, shoulder, or arm. Depending on the type of mesothelioma, weight loss may also occur as well as anemia, fever, and bowel obstruction.
Mesothelioma may be diagnosed through physical examination, chest x-ray, complete blood count (CBC), sedimentation rate, bronchoscopy, cytologic exam, or biopsy. Traditional treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy or radiotherapy.