It is well known that exposure to asbestos can be a direct cause of mesothelioma, and may increase the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis, and nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders. Other factors that can affect propensity for an asbestos disease are:
- Length of time for asbestos exposure
- Concentration of the asbestos dust
- Frequency of asbestos exposure
- Size of the asbestos fibers
Asbestos diseases can take as long as 15 or 20 years or longer after exposure to develop. Even short term exposure can result in mesothelioma. Between 1940 and 1980, an estimated 27 million Americans workers had an occupational exposure to asbestos that could result in health effects. Health problems are usually proportional to the amount and length of time of exposure to asbestos. Once asbestos fibers are breathed in, they can become trapped in the airways and lung tissue and the body has difficulty removing them. Continued exposure to asbestos increases the amount of asbestos that remains in the lungs.