Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that has a long latency period. This means that it takes the disease several years — even decades — to develop after a person has been exposed to asbestos. Because of this fact, mesothelioma is more commonly found in older adults and seniors. Encountering mesothelioma in children or young adults is rare, but it does happen. Nearly 5 percent of mesothelioma cases occur in youth.
When an adult develops mesothelioma, it’s usually due to asbestos exposure in the workplace. For children, the reason can be more difficult to pinpoint. Generally, for cases of mesothelioma in children, the patient cannot relate to a history of asbestosexposure. Researchers have been looking for other potential causes of the disease in relation to children and young adults, but there are so few cases that it’s a difficult subject to investigate.
Secondary Asbestos Exposure
One way that a child or young adult may be exposed to asbestos is through indirect, or secondary asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, secondary exposure can be just as dangerous as first-hand. While first-hand asbestos exposure usually occurs in the workplace or environment surrounding it, secondhand exposure happens when a close family member or friend comes into contact with a person who has asbestos fibers on their hair, skin, or clothes. Asbestos tends to cling to those who work with it, making it easily transferable.
Asbestos in the Environment
Asbestos is now more widely dispersed in the environment due to human use, as well as naturally, primarily in underground rock. If these environments are disturbed and the asbestos is moved, then it has more of a chance of coming in contact with another person. If someone is around a construction site then this has a higher likelihood of happening.
|Asbestos Source||Location in the Environment|
|Airborne fibers from the disruption of building materials||Indoor air|
|Construction, deterioration, and disposal of asbestos products and materials||Outdoor air and settled dust|
|Release of fibers from brake linings or crushed asbestos-filled rock used in road construction||Street dust|
|Cast-off mine and mill tailings, asbestos cement pipe, disintegration of other asbestos-containing materials moved by rainwater, erosion of natural land sources||Drinking water|
|Weathering of asbestos-filled rock, the release of fibers from disruption in mining and milling||Outdoor air and settled dust|