Asbestos: A Silent Potent Killer

Hannaniah Shenia Zephaniah 1, Stephen Olaide Aremu 2 3 *

EUROPEAN J ENV PUBLI, Volume 3, Issue 2, Article No: em0030.

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Asbestos is a general name given to a group of carcinogenic and genotoxic fibrous silicate minerals that have been of commercial values over the years. They include chrysolite, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, actinolite and anthrophylite. Because of their special properties such as flexibility, tensile length, heat stability and resistivity to chemical, electrical, thermal and biological attacks, asbestos fibres have been used as components of several construction, building and automotive materials. This materials when disturbed, during home redecoration, demolition, renovation and automobiles repairs, release asbestos fibres into the atmosphere leading to both residential and occupational exposure. Measured concentration of fibres has been found to be higher in urban areas (especially those in close proximity with asbestos industries which may include mining and demolition sites) than in rural areas. Several studies have linked asbestos exposure to several serious health challenges such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other respiratory diseases. Although the main mechanisms through which asbestos can lead to diseases are not fully understood, three hypotheses have been made. These include alterations at the chromosomal level, activation of oncogenes, loss of tumour suppressor genes, alterations in cellular signal transduction pathways, generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, and direct mechanical damage to cells from asbestos fibres. This article reviews briefly the ways by which the general public (occupational and non-occupational) can be exposed to asbestos and its most recent pathogenic mechanisms leading to malignant and non-malignant disease conditions.


Asbestos, lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma




Zephaniah, H. S., and Aremu, S. O. (2019). Asbestos: A Silent Potent Killer. European Journal of Environment and Public Health, 3(2), em0030.

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