Since the late 1800s, asbestos has been extracted and used in commerce. The use of asbestos increased dramatically during the Second World War and since the early 1940s, millions of Americans have been exposed to asbestos dust in industries where the risks were initially unknown. Workers in shipyards, mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, heating and construction workers and other traders experienced widespread exposure to workers in shipyards, Resulting in a growing risk of developing mesothelioma. .

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Today, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of exposure to asbestos in the workplace. On the other hand, the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) formally states that any threshold for mesothelioma must be at a very low level and it is widely agreed that if such a threshold exists, it can not currently Not be quantified. For practical reasons, therefore, HSE does not assume that such a threshold exists. People who work with asbestos use personal protective equipment to reduce their risk of exposure.
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The risk of asbestos-related illness increases with increased exposure to asbestos and a longer exposure time. However, some people with only short exposures have developed mesothelioma. On the other hand, all workers who are highly exposed do not develop asbestos-related diseases. Family members and other people living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma and possibly other asbestos-related diseases. This risk can result from exposure to asbestos dust on the clothing and hair of asbestos workers.
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The combination of smoking and exposure to asbestos significantly increases the risk of developing airway cancer in the lungs. The Kent cigarette brand used asbestos in its filters for the early years of production in the 1950s and some cases of mesothelioma resulted. Smoking current cigarettes does not seem to increase the risk of mesothelioma.
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There is no curative treatment. Close monitoring (routine x-rays or even pleural biopsy) for mesothelioma is mandatory. Oxygen therapy at home is often necessary to relieve shortness of breath. Symptom supportive therapy includes respiratory treatments to eliminate secretions from the lungs through postural drainage, chest percussion and vibration. Aerosol medications for thin secretions may be prescribed

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