Being exposed to asbestos is by far the biggest risk factor for mesothelioma , so the best way to reduce your risk is to limit your exposure to asbestos at home, in public buildings, and at work.
People who might be exposed to high levels of asbestos at work include some miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, railroad and automotive workers, ship builders, gas mask manufacturers, plumbers, and construction workers. If there's a chance of on-the-job exposure, such as during the renovation of old buildings, you should use all protective equipment and safety procedures designed for working around asbestos.
Older homes may have asbestos or other toxic materials. A knowledgeable expert can check your home to find out if there's any asbestos and whether it poses any risk of exposure. This may mean testing the air for asbestos levels. Just because asbestos exists in a home doesn't mean that it needs to be removed. As long as the material isn't damaged or disturbed, for example by drilling or remodeling, the fibers won't be released into the air. If asbestos needs to be removed from your home, you should hire a qualified contractor to do this to avoid contaminating your home or causing any exposure to your family or to the workers. You shouldn't try to remove asbestos-containing material yourself.
Asbestos can also be found in some commercial and public buildings (including some schools), where the same basic principles apply. Intact, undisturbed materials containing asbestos generally do not pose a health risk. They may pose a risk if they are damaged, disturbed in some way, or deteriorate over time and release asbestos fibers into the air. By federal law, all schools are required to inspect materials with asbestos regularly and must have a plan in place for managing them.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Last Revised: November 16, 2018
American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.