In the last three decades, the link between mesothelioma and asbestos exposure has become clear. There have been thousands of victims of mesothelioma who have talked about playing near asbestos piles and products containing asbestos near their homes as a child. In some situations, asbestos factories were next door elementary schools. (mesothelioma.net)
In others, adults that were diagnosed with asbestos cancer recall their parents coming back from work coated in asbestos dust and being around them all evening and risking exposure to deadly asbestos fibers. Now, a study in the Denmark has shown that being exposed to asbestos as a child has a higher impact on the risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Thousands of Children Exposed
According to a clinical study that was published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, children who went to school near a factory that produced asbestos cement had as much as a 10x greater chance of being diagnosed with mesothelioma 60 years later. The study reviewed 12,000 people who resided in Aalborg, Denmark from 1940-1970 when they were children and went to one of four schools that were situated near the asbestos cement plant. The schools were approximately 100-750 meters downwind of the plant. Their medical records over six decades were compared to those of 110,000 people who were of similar genders and age who did not have asbestos exposure. Out of the 12,000 studied, six women and 32 men were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
School Age Exposure Heightens Mesothelioma Risk
The scientists’ study determined those who were exposed to the toxic substance as children had a 7x higher chance of developing mesothelioma, compared to the public. According to lead author Sofie Bunemann Dalsgaard, boys and girls who went to schools near the cement plant had a higher risk of developing mesothelioma later in life.
Other Childhood Studies Confirm Higher Risk of Asbestos Cancer
There have been other studies that have confirmed that children who were exposed to asbestos decades ago have a higher risk of asbestos-related cancers. In Australia, ‘Wittenoom kids’ who spend years exposed to asbestos in the northwestern area of western Australia were in 2012 developing asbestos-related cancers, and/or dying at rates that were well above the general Australian population, per a study that was conducted by The University of Western Australia. (medicalxpress.com)
Mining for blue asbestos in Wittenoom, Australia stopped in 1966. The town later was shut down after dangerous asbestos fibers were found in dust from mines in the area. This hazard led to higher rates of mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
This study was the first to examine the long-term health of small children who were exposed to the deadly substance in that town. The study, which was published in The American Journal of Industrial Medicine, revealed that girls up to 15 who lived in the city have been over the years at higher risk for mesothelioma, brain and ovarian cancers. They also have had higher rates of death overall.
Boys who grew up in Wittenoom from 1943 to 1966 have higher incidence of mesothelioma, prostate, brain and colorectal cancer. They also have more diseases affecting the nervous and circulatory system and higher rates of death than the general population.
Wittenoom Located Just 1.5 Km from Asbestos Mine
In 1947, the population of the town grew and the township was relocated 12 km away from the asbestos mine, but products from the mine were used throughout Wittenoom. The asbestos was used in road construction, parking areas, footpaths, on the local race course and even on school playgrounds. Some people used asbestos in their backyards where their children played. ‘Wittenoom kids’ are now getting to the age where serious adult diseases are more common. Many people have died.
The study determined that 2460 children from the town were exposed to deadly blue asbestos before they were 15. The median age for initial exposure was three years old. Of all the people studied, 63% were born there or moved to the town by the age of three. More than 90% left the community by age 16. So, they were exposed to the deadly material during their childhood.
By the conclusion of 2007, 230 former residents died from a variety of causes. At the end of 2009, there were 210 cases of cancer in only 205 people. This means when you compare them to the general population in western Australia, girls from the town have had a 20 to 47% higher risk of dying for any reason. Boys have had a 50 to 83% higher risk of dying for any reason.
- Childhood Exposure to Asbestos Has Impact on Risk of Mesothelioma. (2019). Retrieved from https://mesothelioma.net/mesothelioma-news/childhood-exposure-to-asbestos-has-significant-impact-on-risk-of-mesothelioma/
- A Sad Legacy – Victims of Childhood Asbestos Exposure. (2012). Retrieved from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-09-sad-legacyvictims-childhood-asbestos-exposure.html