Dentists are among the occupational groups facing a higher than average risk of developing mesothelioma, the cancer caused by asbestos, a report suggests.
The report at www.asbestos.net claims that dentists may be exposed to asbestos, which historically, has been used within the profession, as a lining material for casting rings for example.
Continued exposure naturally increases the concentration of asbestos fibres that are inhaled, thereby increasing the odds of developing an asbestos-related disease.
The warning comes as last month an inquest found that a dental technician from Eastbourne, east Sussex, died from the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Edward Seviour, a keen cyclist, died in August 2009 at the age of 73. He had been a dental technician all his life, first entering a laboratory at the age of 13 and working in a lab until he retired. The dental equipment he worked with is believed to have contained the asbestos.
In 2008, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma after consulting his GP about a chest infection.
The inquest was held at Eastbourne Coroners’ Court and heard how the post-mortem examination found ‘an extensive tumour’ in the lung and ‘numerous asbestos fibres’.
Coroner, Alan Craze, explained that the large number of asbestos fibres present were ‘evidence of much greater than average exposure during life’.
Recording a verdict of industrial disease, the coroner said: ‘I’m entirely satisfied in every respect that this death is due to industrial disease, caused by mesothelioma, 90% of cases of which are caused by asbestos and exposure was while he was at work.’
Since dentists work in small, confined examination rooms and surgeries – and since they usually don’t take precautions against inhaling asbestos, because they may not even be aware of the hazards – they are at a greater risk, the online report went on to suggest.
Any dental professional who may have been exposed to asbestos should carefully monitor their health with their GP.