Since the dangers of asbestos exposure began to come to light over 40 years ago, regulations have been implemented to ban asbestos in most household products and to severely limit asbestos exposure in the workplace. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that causes lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other life-threatening diseases, and these regulations not only aim to reduce exposure, but also the risk of developing one of these illnesses.
Since diseases caused by asbestos exposure can take decades to develop, those who were exposed during the height of its use began getting ill in the 1980s and 1990s. As that population ages and overall asbestos use in the United States has declined, it was expected that these life -threatening illnesses would also decrease over time. However, research at the International Commission of Occupational Health (ICOH) found that previous estimates as to how many people per year passed away from asbestos-related cases was incorrect by nearly double. The research team, which presented their findings at the 14th Annual Asbestos Disease Awareness Conference earlier this month, stated that there are 35, 275 deaths from asbestos-related diseases annually. Prior estimates had placed the number of deaths at around 15,000.
Lung cancer and mesothelioma continue to be the two most common cancers caused by asbestos exposure, but other cancers such as ovarian and larynx have also risen as well.
- Lung Cancer – 34,270 deaths per year
- Mesothelioma – 3,161 deaths per year
- Ovarian Cancer – 787 deaths per year
- Larynx and Throat – 443 deaths per year
- Asbestosis – 613 deaths per year
These findings are only within the United States. Countries such as Australia, Spain, the UK, Germany, Italy, and 50 other countries all have permanently banned asbestos. Some countries, like Italy, has had the carcinogen banned for over 25 years. The United States did ban asbestos in 1989, but the ban was over turned just two years later in 1991. Asbestos ban advocates have been fighting to have the ban reinstated ever since.
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Conference is held each year and aims to educate the public about the dangers of asbestos exposure while pushing for an overall ban. Researchers, scientists, and asbestos ban advocates come together from all over the world in hopes to convince the public and legislators that any amount of asbestos exposure is unacceptable, and should be banned.
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, “ADAO Announces New Findings that Show Asbestos-Related Deaths Estimated at More than Double Previously Reported in the United States,” Business Wire (April 16, 2018). [Link]