A recent report has been published contained very alarming information about how little asbestos exposure it can take to cause malignant mesothelioma.

Radiological experts in New Delhi, India have highlighted details of a case of incurable mesothelioma affecting a young woman who experienced low level exposure to asbestos dust during her childhood.

The study in the Journal of Clinical Imaging Science and named “Malignant pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma consequential to brief indirect asbestos exposure”, covered the story of the young woman. She was diagnosed as suffering with asbestos related pleural mesothelioma after reporting symptoms of shortness of breath and chest pain. Her condition was confirmed by way of pleural biopsy and her radiology showed that, not only was she suffering from mesothelioma affecting the lining of the lung, this had also spread to her lungs and liver.

The young woman was in her teenage years when diagnosed and had suffered very light exposure to asbestos dust from her father’s contaminated work clothes when she was a child. Her father worked as a miner in the Jharkhand area in Eastern India.

Shockingly, the sufferer only lived with her father for approximately 3 months and suffered the exposure to the deadly dust over this short time. The exposure occurred approximately 15 years prior to her diagnosis and it is well known that all asbestos exposures which occur between 10 and 50 years before the development of mesothelioma are relevant. Such “secondary exposure” was the only type of exposure the young woman had suffered during the course of her short life.

The woman’s case is thought to be unique in as much as she is much younger than the vast majority of mesothelioma patients who are often diagnosed during later life.

The lead author, Dr Bharati Singhal of the ESI Model Hospital in New Delhi stated:-

“This report highlights that pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma can occur without direct asbestos exposure, as was seen in our young patient.”

Both he and his colleagues fear that there may be many other cases of low level mesothelioma diagnoses which go undetected as neither the patients nor their treating medical teams fully appreciate their past histories of exposure to asbestos dust and their relevance.
Mesothelioma is considered to be the most aggressive form of asbestos related illness and although there are higher incidences of diagnosed mesothelioma cases in people in their 60’s or 70’s, this Indian case highlights how dangers asbestos can be, even if inhaled in very small amounts.

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Asbestos claims life of 22 year old 

At Asbestos Justice we have first hand experience of just how devastating low level exposure to asbestos dust can be. We have recently settled a claim for a mesothelioma victim’s family. Tragically, our client’s son passed away at the tender age of 22 on 11th December 2011 after being diagnosed with the condition following a biopsy.

The circumstances of the claim are particularly alarming in that our client’s son was exposed to asbestos from his father’s contaminated work clothes as a small baby from birth for approximately 2 years. His father provided evidence in the case confirming that he worked as a builder, working alongside tradesmen employed by a company known as Tarmac Homes (Midlands) Limited which is now owned by Carillion PLC.

His work involved working on one housing estate known as the Avondale Estate in Kettering where numerous council houses were in the process of being fully refurbished. In his evidence he made it clear that whilst he did not directly work with asbestos materials, he was nearby when Tarmac’s workers were involved in removing asbestos insulation boards from the inside of the properties. The workers would also remove asbestos soffit boards from the exterior of the properties. He stated that as they removed the asbestos boards which were often in a brittle, damaged state, a lot of asbestos dust would be released into the atmosphere, resulting in his own work clothes being covered in some of the deadly dust.

As he had no idea of the dangers of working with asbestos he was entirely unaware of the harm that would be caused to his young son in later life when holding him following his return from work each day. The lack of warnings given to him resulted in him bringing the danger into the family home.

This tragic case is another example of how asbestos exposure in very low quantities can still result in such devastating effects many years on.


If you are concerned about asbestos exposure in childhood and are suffering with breathing problems, contact Asbestos Justice on freephone 0800 038 6767 for expert legal advice.


Main Image credit: An unnamed child on an Indian construction site, surrounded by asbestos-laden broken pipes. Photo courtesy of the Rideau Institute.


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