Asbestos Operations

Jobsites where workers mine, handle or process asbestos often contaminate the outside air with airborne fibers. As a result, people in nearby communities may face environmental exposures that increase the risk for serious health complications.A 2009 study tested the effects of environmental exposure in a population living near an asbestos manufacturing plant. The study examined rates of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and other asbestos-related conditions in Shubra El-Kheima, Egypt, an industrial city containing the Sigwart Company asbestos plant. It compared disease rates in individuals working in the plant, those living near the plant and those in a control group with no known asbestos exposure. In total, the study had more than 4,000 participants.

The rate of MPM was highest in the group with environmental asbestos exposure, with 2.8 percent of this group having the cancer. The group with occupational exposure had a strikingly lower rate of only 0.8 percent. As expected, the control group had the fewest incidences, with a rate of 0.1 percent. These rates varied for other illnesses such as diffuse pleural thickening. Overall, the study found a slightly higher — but still comparable — rate of asbestos-related illnesses in asbestos workers than in nearby residents.

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