For years mesothelioma concerns have been focused on the occupational environment, for those exposed to asbestos materials were people in the workplace and the people these workers were in daily contact with outside of the workplace. Only recently have researchers started to focus on asbestos fibers in the general environment, and they are finding that asbestos is affecting more than just workers exposed to airborne asbestos.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and is recognized for contributing to mesothelioma, a cancer affecting the pleural and peritoneal linings of internal organs and asbestos lung cancer. Mesothelioma is distinct in the cancer family, as it originates from no other factor than exposure to asbestos materials. As it was once believed this exposure was only happening in the workplace, it is now becoming apparent that there are risks of exposure in our general environment. An individual can be exposed to asbestos when living with asbestos workers, has regular exposure to soiled work clothes from an asbestos worker, has environmental exposure in neighborhoods of industrial sources, and passive exposure from buildings containing asbestos materials.

New research is being conducted to determine the effects of environmental asbestos exposure. With the help of the Mesothelioma Database, researchers have been able to study the geographical impact of environmental asbestos exposure. This research will help to determine the effects of airborne asbestos on people living close to industrial sources and naturally occurring asbestos mines and geographically outward outward geographically to determine how much of a risk the asbestos is to residents of the next town. This risk mapping will expand mesothelioma diagnosis abilities and hopefully allow for quicker mesothelioma treatment options.