What are the risk of childhood asbestos exposure? I was exposed to asbestos as a child. I'm now a middle-aged adult. Is there a risk i'll develop cancer?
Inhalation . Inhalation of asbestos fibers can result in many forms of respiratory disease occurring 20 to 40 years later in life - lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis (lung fibrosis) are all late complications of asbestos, but other factors such as smoking cigarettes is particularly influential in its development. Your exposure to asbestos as a child however does not necessarily mean that you are at risk. This is because asbestos is found in thousands of everyday products and is ubiquitous in our environment. We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos fibers on a day-to-day basis, either in the ambient air on in drinking water. Exposure to these low levels does not cause disease later in life. Many everyday construction products such as plaster, ceiling tiles, cement products and roofs are made from high-density asbestos containing products - these are very unlikely to emit asbestos fibers unless actively damaged and therefore pose little risk. There is also marked variability in the type of asbestos fiber that poses a health risk. Crocidolite ("blue asbestos") or amosite ("brown asbestos") fibers are many times more potent that chrysotile ("white asbestos") fibers in causing damage to the lungs. As a result, in clinical practice, asbestos-related lung disease is typically only seen in people who have had prolonged exposure to aerosolized asbestos fibers (especially crocidolite fibers) arising from significant occupational exposure (e.g. Ship yard workers).