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What's So Crucial About the Pleura & Mesothelioma?

Why we need to worry about the pleura and mesothelioma when we have to discuss asbestos? Well, asbestos has a great role to play in both the medical ailments that we are going to discuss today. Before letting you know more about these diseases, the first and the foremost thing for you is to know about them.


First, we have to give you a clarity about pleura or pleural membrane which is nothing but a thin membrane that lines the outer surface of the lungs. In other way, it protects the lungs from various infections and more. The pleural membrane also lines the chest cavity as well.

When we have to discuss about pleura, we need to know its basic structure. And this is what we are going to start with. Take a look below to find more on this burning topic.

Also Read: When is Asbestos Dangerous? What's Asbestos Exposure Law?


What's Pleura?

As we mentioned above, pleura or pleural membrane is the outer covering or lining of the lungs and the peritoneal cavity. Now, there are further two layers of pleura in which it has been divided:


·       The visceral pleura (covers the entire lung surface)

·       The parietal pleura (covers the inside of chest cavity)


While studying pleura, we also do study about its presence in some other organs. For example, there are some additional pleura linings that basically covers or give protection to outside of the heart (also known as 'pericardium'), the diaphragm along with the organs located in the middle of the chest ('mediastinum').

But at the time of practice, pleura is not mentioned as two distinct layers. Instead, it is defined to be a single collective membrane.

One interesting aspect of pleura is that it is a very thin and transparent layer and looks like a paper like membrane.

Talking about its color, it generally varies from light gray to pink.

While discussing pleura on the basis of its normal texture, it gives you a feeling or sensation which is very similar when a person runs his finger over a clean dish which is covered with any detergent.

In short, pleura give a soapy like feeling which is quite delicate and smooth. The other fact about pleura is that the entire pleural lining is fragile having no strength of its own.

And therefore, the entire lining can be easily traumatized.


What's the Function of the Pleura?

Pleura is made up of two pleural linings, and between them there is a small space, often termed as pleural cavity. This cavity has a small fluid meant to lubricate the entire surface of lungs.

The free sliding movement of lungs happens quite effortlessly with the help of this fluid. It's because it also acts as a lubricant and thus helps them to contract and expand with minimal effort.

Another interesting feature of pleural fluid is that it generates surface tension that further helps to pull both visceral and parietal pleura together.

The above act mainly helps lungs to expand effortlessly along with the movement of chest. In other words, this ensures that when your chest or peritoneal cavity expands, the lungs expand as well allowing them to be filed up with air.

Now, if you analyze this on a microscopic level, you will be able to find that cells that are lying inside the pleural lining have all the capacity to control the amount of fluid within your cavity.

For example, if the fluid starts to accumulate, it may cause a problem. When the pleural lining have the surplus amount of fluid, it will allow less space for lungs to expand.

And this will result in the shortness of breath which is often regarded as the first sign of mesothelioma. It's a lethal cancer which is caused quite exclusively by the asbestos exposure.


Does the Pleura Surface Have Nerves & Blood Vessels?

The pleural surface covering the entire chest wall (parietal pleura) is entirely made up of blood vessels and nerves having the ability to sense pain, temperature and pressure. 

One of the reasons why you get a feeling of the presence of the rich supply of nerves comes out at times when you break your ribs by accident, get hit in the chest area or when the masses start appearing in the pleura (the same happens in mesothelioma).

This is when you start getting intense pain or a sensation of continuous ache.

At the same time, visceral pleura have no nerves. And this is the reason why most lung cancers don't cause intense pain.

Also, both the visceral and parietal pleura are full of blood supply. The blood flow actually comes from all the blood vessels that runs inside the chest wall. It also comes to and from the lungs.

Also Read: Can You Get Mesothelioma Without Asbestos Exposure


What Types of Disorders Affect the Pleura?

There are a number of known disorders that have the capability to affect pleura:


·       A mass or a tumor, which can either be benign or malignant

·       Pneumothorax, or accumulation of excess air

·       Effusion, or accumulation of fluid


It has been found that asbestos has the direct role to play in mesothelioma. It happens when a person gets exposed to asbestos fibers that enter into the body through inhalation and get accumulated in the lungs.

The situation becomes rigid when some of these asbestos fibers tend to cross the entire lung surface and enter the pleural cavity.

Although, the body tries to fight such kind of fibers, it is unable to fight for lung due to the very nature of them.

As these asbestos fibers look solid in their texture and formation, they can't be broken down by the body. And so, the body tries to respond by sending more defense cells to the pleura.

Now, what happens is that with the passage of time, asbestos fibers that are already present in the pleural cavity can easily overpower the defense cells and start stimulating an inflammatory reaction.

It causes both pleural membranes to stuck together giving the sensation of pain due to the presence of inflammation. This further makes lung unable to expand as both the linings is already stuck together.

And this is when the lung gets trapped. After these asbestos fibers overpower the defence system of the body, rapid changes start happening inside the cells.

These newly deformed cells slowly and steadily take the shape of mesothelioma which is a form of lethal cancer.


Can the Pleural Surfaces Heal?

In general, pleural surface has a huge capacity to heal, especially when it has been attacked by any sort of infection. But it doesn't work when a person is diagnosed with a tumor or cancer.

In such cases, it has to be removed first. In mesothelioma cases, a doctor has to remove the entire pleural lining. After this lining is removed, the patient can lead to the normal life but again has some complication.

In most cases, the removal of pleural is full of major surgical undertaking. But it can be a good option for those who are healthy enough to bear this.



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EPA Agrees to Address Asbestos Data-Collection Deficiencies

Do you know how harmful can be the use of asbestos is? Well, if you are not aware of the health hazards of asbestos, then I would like to give you some detail about this naturally occurring mineral.


Asbestos is basically a mixture of several naturally occurring minerals found on earth. Even when its ill effects were not known, it has been in use for long, especially in military services.

But after the health hazards of asbestos were known, it was banned from using it at different places like construction sites, building material and various other places. But its use is still being taking place in spite of so many restrictions.

In order to help the US citizens, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has come forward to tighten its data collection process so as to curb the menace of asbestos.

It all happened when the pressure mounted from a multistate level US coalition when EPA came forward to tighten its data collection process for asbestos. It will really help the country to move one step closer to banning this toxic substance from the lives of people.

It actually took long for the agreement to come in force. It took over 6 months when a US district court ordered the EPA to strengthen its ineffective data collection procedures or rules on the imports of asbestos.

And it all happened when the attorney generals of 2 states simply challenged in the court about the lack of EPA to restrict the regulation of asbestos.

“The longtime failure of the EPA to regulate asbestos is an environmental injustice and public health tragedy,” this is what the Attorney General of California said in the legal battle with EPA. As we mentioned above, asbestos is primarily a naturally occurring mineral found on earth which is known to cause a wide range of health hazards that includes malignant mesothelioma cancer.

“This is a huge win for public health,” the above comment was given by Linda Reinstein, who's the co-founder and president of  the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). Well, it's basically a nonprofit organization that has advocated for years to tighten asbestos regulation.

Also Read: 4 Cancers Types Linked To Asbestos Exposure


Asbestos Exemptions Could Be Eliminated

The agreement is dated June 7, 2021 that basically says that EPA needs to take some more strict actions for asbestos data collection.

It can easily eliminate all kinds of exemptions that currently exist under the current regulations governed by the concerned body.

After the court's judgment, EPA finally agreed to work on a new program to curb the menace of asbestos related health hazards. The agreement also directed the EPA to start and take action under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) guidelines.

It also directed the agency to mainly address its data collecting deficiencies or loopholes that were already identified at the time of court's ruling in the month of December.

However, in the past, EPA continued to contend that the agency is satisfied with all the voluntary data reporting by a plethora of manufacturers, processors and importers that provided all the information under the existing Chemical Data Reporting rule.

“The data collected in response to this rule could help inform EPA’s ongoing efforts to evaluate whether asbestos presents unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, and any future risk management actions taken by the agency to eliminate any such risk,” this is what an EPA representative had to say to the Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com.

It further said, “The agency is committed to protecting against unreasonable risk.”

It's California that actually filed the lawsuit two years back in 2019 against the EPA. It was actually a part of settlement that happened on June 7. Well, there are some other states also listed apart from California like Maryland, Washington, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Minnesota, Oregon and Massachusetts.

Not only that, the District of Columbia was another one that joined the above proceeding against the EPA.

“The lack of reporting on asbestos has been a gaping hole in the EPA’s efforts to protect Americans from exposure to this lethal carcinogen. We’ve always said that we can’t protect Americans from asbestos if we don’t know where it is,” this is what stated by Reinstein in his statement.


Asbestos Is Already Heavily Regulated

There was a time when asbestos was advocated for its use because of its properties like versatility and heat resistance. But it was later known to be a dangerously toxic substance.

Asbestos was also being used heavily in the past without knowing it being a health hazard. Its use was basically in various consumer products, mostly at places like residential and other commercial use.

Now, if you look what actions have been taken by the US law and the government, then we must say that there have been some dramatic changes in the country after it was proved beyond doubt that asbestos use must be banned.

Due to this, asbestos is now heavily regulated in the US and its consumption (in any way) has been dropped quite dramatically in the last few decades. As far as mining of asbestos is concerned, it has already been stopped almost 2 decades back.

As per the report of U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Commodity Summaries, almost 30 metric tons of raw asbestos was imported in 2020 alone. Now, the entire asbestos was primarily used specifically by the chloralkali industry.

It was mainly used to make semi permeable diaphragms to manufacture Chlorine. Well, this was the 2nd smallest amount of asbestos that was imported in the span of 50 years. As you see, it looks like a fraction against an all time high of 803,000 tons of asbestos that was imported during 1973s.

Well, the above report doesn't include all that small amount of asbestos that was imported in the country in the form of already manufactured products like brake blocks, gaskets (to make titanium dioxide), vehicle friction products and more.

EPA in December 2019 had released its final risk evaluation report that found as many as 16 conditions of asbestos use that have the direct link for an unreasonable risk to human health.

Also Read: When is Asbestos Dangerous? What's Asbestos Exposure Law?


Legacy Asbestos Is Biggest Concern

As per the instructions, the EPA was bound to release its part 2 evaluation report that will comprise legacy asbestos. It's basically found in commercial buildings and older homes. And this happens to be the major risk for the public health today.

Due to this Legacy asbestos was added to the TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) in the year 2019. Well, it was a part of the ruling that basically involved the lawsuit with several states along with the District of Columbia.

As per the present act, EPA is bound to issue new regulatory guidelines for asbestos that will be a step ahead to banning of this naturally occurring mineral.

“We cannot effectively reduce the large ongoing toll of death and disease from asbestos unless we know how much is entering the country, where it is going, how it is used and how many people are exposed,” Reinstein stated.



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4 Cancers Types Linked To Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure basically meant some fibers reaching the lungs and accumulating there. Over the passage of time, it causes the irritation of lung cells leading to certain types of lung cancer like mesothelioma.

asbestos exposure

Now, when it comes to exposing of asbestos, there are two ways that play crucial role in this. One is inhaling the asbestos fibers and other is swallowing them.

Asbestos fibers play a crucial role in causing such medical ailment, especially to those involve in the construction work. These people include construction supervisors, laborers, electricians and more.

All such people have the chances to undergo the exposure of this naturally occurring mineral. In the same ways, asbestos exposure can also happen in cases of a building demolition or renovation.

Most of the times, the older lining of asbestos is disturbed at the time of construction or any other such thing. The whole process triggers asbestos fibers into the atmosphere and become the cause of such ailments.

In the same ways, you can also be exposed to asbestos if you swallow it in any way. For example, if you tend to consume liquids or food having the presence of asbestos, it can slowly become the cause of the disease.

Another reason of getting asbestos exposure is the drinking water that flows through asbestos containing cement pipes. This can also become the cause.

When asbestos fibers are inhaled, the instantly travel to the wind pipe and get slicked to the mucus in the throat. There are chances of them to be removed while coughing or swallowing.

But increased exposure of such fibers can reach the lining of lungs (pleura) where they tend to irritate lung cells and become the reason of lung cancer or mesothelioma. Take a look at some of the most common cancer forms that are linked to the exposure of asbestos:

Also Read: Can Talcum Powder Really Become the Cause of Cancer?



Mesothelioma happens to be the most common form of cancer that arise due to the exposure of asbestos. It's a rare form of cancer that covers both the abdominal and lung cavity.

It may also include the membranes that surround other organs as well. The biggest problem is that signs or symptoms do appear only after 30-40 years after the exposure of asbestos.


Take look at the most common symptoms: 

·       dry or wheezing cough

·       pain in chest/abdomen

·       difficulty breathing

·       respiratory complications

·       fluid around lungs

·       fatigue


Also Read: Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Treatment, Diagnosis Survival and Sub types

Lung cancer 

This is a very well known example of the asbestos exposure which often becomes the cause of lung cancer. It's basically a malignant tumor that blocks and invades air passages of the lung cavities.

Those who frequently smoke nicotine coupled with the exposure of asbestos can really enhance the chances of lung cancer. Most of the time, it has seen that such cases do arise or detect only after a gap of 15 years or more after the person has got infected with asbestos.


Take a look at the symptoms: 

·       persistent coughing

·       chronic respiratory infections

·       chest pain/discomfort

·       coughing up blood

·       shortness of breath


 Laryngeal cancer

Larynx is most commonly known as sound box or Adam's apple. It's basically a muscular organ that paves the way for air to enter into the lungs. Now, after the person gets exposed to asbestos, there are chances that he or she may develop laryngeal cancer.

Technically speaking, a person gets 40% chances to develop this form of cancer if he is exposed to asbestos for long. Those who have to work in the highly prone areas of exposure to this naturally occurring mineral include professions like miners and textile workers.


Take a look at the symptoms of Laryngeal cancer:


·       lump or swelling in neck

·       sounding horse  

·       difficulty/pain swallowing

·       persistent sore/aching throat



Ovarian cancer

Do you know that over 20,000 women are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year? Well, as per the data collected by American Cancer Society, working women may get a possible risk of getting exposed to asbestos.

Such women generally have the chances to develop ovarian cancer in their life. It's mainly because the inhaled asbestos fibers may travel to ovaries.


Take a look at the symptoms below:


·       frequent need to urinate

·       back pain

·       pelvic/abdominal pain

·       fatigue

·       pain during sex

·       bloating


Well, there are some other types of cancers that are also associated with the exposure to asbestos including colorectal, pharynx and stomach. To get more details on asbestos exposure, click here.



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Can Talcum Powder Really Become the Cause of Cancer?

Talcum Powder is nothing but talc which a mineral is taken out from the earth. The use of this powder has been for long mainly due to its properties of absorbing moisture, cosmetics, reducing friction and more.

telcum powder

It's extensively used in baby powder, eye shadow and many other products. Now, it has become a point of debate in the recent past, especially weather it has any sort of  carcinogenic properties. Research is also going o to check if it contains asbestos which is a well known toxin.

Also Read: What Does Asbestos Look Like: Common Asbestos Related Queries


Is There Any Link Between Asbestos and Talc?

First take a look what asbestos is all about. Well, Asbestos is basically a group of naturally occurring minerals which is often named sometimes as talc. There are times when you find asbestos mixed with talc after it is well mined and processed.

As far as asbestos is concerned, it's a well proven fact that the mineral is the major cause of lung cancer among those who are exposed to it for long. This is the reason why cosmetics companies need to choose mining sites with caution.

Not only that, they also need to cross check their composition, especially the presence of asbestos in it. 

It all happened in the year 1976 when a major cosmetic trade group issued guidelines that stated that all US cosmetic products should not have the presence of even the detectable amount of asbestos in them.


Is There Any Cancer Connection?

While checking for any risks of developing cancers, it's becomes crucial to separate talc from asbestos. It's quite obvious that those who breathe in talc containing asbestos in it are likely to develop the disease. It happens if they do this regularly.

But there are concerns of talc without the presence of asbestos that can even be more complex. Take a look at what most researches have to say in this regard.

Can you get lung cancer if you regularly breathe in talcum powder?

Well, the answer is a clear "no: for most of the people. It's because there is no evidence that you are going to develop lung cancer if you tend to use baby telcum powder or any other type of cosmetic telcum powder which can be easy to breathe in.

The main cause to developing the disease in those who are involved in talc processing and mining. But the clear cause of developing lung cancer is not known.

Also Read: Can You Get Mesothelioma Without Asbestos Exposure


Can women get ovarian cancer from regular use of talcum powder on their genitals?

As per a study conducted in this regard, there is no evidence or significant risk involved in women who tend to use talcum powder on their genitals and become the victim of ovarian cancer.

In the past, several companies who are known to make talc-based powder have undergone hundreds of lawsuits related to their products. The latest is Johnson & Johnson which has now stopped selling talc-based baby powder in 2020.

Other Related Cancers

Till date, scientists and researchers have not found direct link connecting talc with other types of cancers.

As per one study, it showed a slight risk of developing uterine cancer in women who have achieved menopause and use telcum powder quite extensively. But the studies found afterwards failed to reveal anything in this regard.

There were some other studies conducted in this regard that simply show the presence of stomach cancer. But again, there is no direct evidence. More study is required to be done in this regard to come to any conclusion.

Well, f you are concerned with any such risk of developing cancer due to the exposure of asbestos or related products like talc or telcum powder, you need to consult with your doctor.

Also Read: Asbestos Insulation: Types, Manufacturers & Brands




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