Several factors can help to determine how asbestos exposure affects an individual, including:
- Dose or the amount an individual was exposed to.
- Duration of exposure
- Type of asbestos fibers, their size, shape, and chemical makeup
- Source of exposure.
- Individual risk factors, such as smoking, immune status and pre-existing lung disease.
Although all forms of asbestos are considered hazardous, various asbestos fiber types are thought to differ with regard to their carcinogenic (cancer causing) potential. Asbestos fibers are classified as either serpentine or amphibole, based on their shape. Results of several studies suggest that amphibole forms of asbestos may be more harmful than chrysotile, particularly for mesothelioma risk, because they tend to stay in the lungs for a longer period of time. All common commercial types of asbestos have been associated with lung cancer.