High Mesothelioma Risk for Women in Doll Factories

July 28, 2018
High Mesothelioma Risk for Women in Doll Factories

Exposure to asbestos can technically occur anywhere, but it most commonly happens on the job. Traditionally, the substance has been found in fields and industries associated with male workers, like construction, automotive, or factory work. Indeed, men make up the majority of cases of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

A 2017 study in the Italian medical journal, La Medicina del Lavoro, discovered asbestos exposure in an unusual place: a doll manufacturing facility. Employees at the facility included a large contingent of women, some of whom ended up with mesothelioma.

Asbestos Risk Factor Grows

Again, the risk of asbestos exposure on the job has been traditionally associated with male-dominated fields. But, this study turns that notion on its head. Researchers looked at 750 individuals who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016 in Brescia, an Italian province. Three women who worked at the doll manufacturing facility in the area were also diagnosed with the disease.

Sadly, during the course of the study, one of the women passed away due to aggressive pleural mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease and develops in the pleura (lining of the lungs). The woman’s autopsy revealed a harrowing discovery: for each gram of dry lung tissue there were 12 million asbestos fibers lodged in them. This is, of course, an enormous amount that could cause mesothelioma in anyone.

After some research, doctors were able to identify the cause of her exposure as “occupational.” This also underscores that exposure to asbestos can happen in places you would not necessarily expect. A doll manufacturing facility seems safe enough, but, as this study points out, it could wind up being very deadly. Other facilities that manufacture textiles may also be at risk of asbestos exposure.

How to Avoid Asbestos on the Job

In recent years, the regulation of asbestos has made it safer and safer to work in a variety of locations. That being said, asbestos is still legal in some nations including the United States. If you work in a place where asbestos is present, then it is the onus of your employer to ensure all safety precautions are being taken. This includes:

  • Providing adequate respiratory protection
  • Identifying risk areas
  • Teaching employees how to spot asbestos
  • Testing for asbestos routinely

To be extra careful, you should always thoroughly wash your body after a day’s work and try to avoid bringing asbestos home in your clothes. If your workplace has laundry services, take advantage of them. Keeping dirty work clothes out of the house means that you will limit your own exposure and ensure that your family won’t be exposed either. If there are no laundry services, take necessary precautions while cleaning clothes. Don’t shake them out because it makes it easier for you to inhale asbestos particles.

In the end, being exposed to asbestos is dangerous no matter where it happens. The women who worked at the doll manufacturing facility in Brescia can certainly tell you that. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, then remember that legal action is always a possibility.