Frequently Asked Questions: Information for Families
I live in an industrial area that used to be a shipbuilding center. Several people I’ve known over the years have developed mesothelioma. The number of cases is alarming to me. Isn’t mesothelioma a rare disease?
You are correct that mesothelioma is a relatively rare disease in the general population. About 2,000 to 3,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is all too common among workers in certain trades and industries, including maritime industries such as shipbuilding, where asbestos was once widely used. Our site has information about the well-documented occupational hazards of asbestos in the workplace. Asbestos fibers are so toxic that industrial and trade worker’s families were put at risk for developing mesothelioma because particles of asbestos would cling to the clothing or hair of maritime workers and wind up in the workers’ homes. Second-hand exposure to asbestos is called para-occupational exposure and is just as dangerous as working directly with asbestos.