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Danish Study Cites Asbestos Dangers of Home Repairs

These days, it’s all the rage and a terrific point of pride to do home renovation and repair projects on your own, but a Danish medical journal recently published an article shining a light on the dangers of asbestos exposure presented by these types of household do-it-yourself projects.

The report was written by researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Slagelse, who discovered that two of the patients in their care within the occupational medicine department were suffering from mesothelioma despite never having been involved in any kind of occupation that would have exposed them to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare and fatal form of cancer that has been identified as being specifically caused by exposure to this toxic mineral, and the majority of patients diagnosed with the disease were exposed as a result of their jobs. Upon further inquiry, they were able to determine that both patients had been exposed to asbestos fibers earlier in their lives when they had done their own repairs on their roofs, drilling and cutting into roofing tiles that were manufactured using asbestos. Both men were in their seventies, and it had been decades since the asbestos exposure had taken place.

Extensive research has shown that mesothelioma develops when the tiny, pointy fibers of asbestos become airborne and are then ingested or inhaled. Asbestos is a mineral that was used for centuries in construction and other industrial settings because of its strength and its heat and flame retardant properties. The material is safe when it is intact, but when it is broken down either through wear and tear or through cutting, as was the case with the two Danish patients, it immediately becomes a health hazard.

According to the Danish researchers, there are a growing number of mesothelioma patients who are presenting with no occupational history of exposure to asbestos. Not only does this mean that homeowners should take extra precautions before taking on new projects, but it also causes additional concerns about the speed of diagnosis; because mesothelioma is such a rare disease, patients presenting with symptoms but without an easily identifiable occupational history are likely to take much longer to get an accurate diagnosis, and therefore begin appropriate treatment.

The study’s author, Dr. Rolf Petersen, said, “The two cases demonstrate the importance of careful handling of products containing asbestos, with emphasis on avoidance of inhaling asbestos fibers.”

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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