Environmental asbestos exposure and risk of mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is commonly considered an occupational disease occurring as a result of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Several avenues for environmental asbestos exposures have been described and may be associated with asbestos related disease, including mesothelioma. Worker take-home asbestos, or para-occupational exposure, has been well documented and is the most commonly reported pathway for asbestos exposure among mesothelioma cases that do not have history of occupational asbestos exposure. Observational studies have evaluated several communities with elevated mesothelioma incidence and environmental exposures attributed to local asbestos-related industries. Potential, but uncertain, mesothelioma risk also may be associated with general population asbestos exposure through contact with asbestos-containing commercial products, particularly housing materials that can be easily disturbed through normal activity. Finally, studies have described elevated mesothelioma incidence in several areas where populations are exposed to naturally occurring asbestos materials. These various environmental asbestos exposure pathways are poorly understood, and further studies should be pursued to evaluate their respective importance for population mesothelioma risk.