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Report Shows that Asbestos Ban Would Benefit Countries Around the World

Published: July 29, 2022

Banning asbestos could soon be a reality after a study linked asbestos, a toxic naturally occurring mineral, to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other cancers. The report linked asbestos with different asbestos related diseases in 70 countries. The report was published in May by Environmental Health Perspectives, which is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The Australian organization known as The Asbestos Diseases Research Institute ran the study. The goal of the study was to show countries the dangers of asbestos, making them consider a complete ban of the carcinogen.

The World Health Organization continues to encourage the banning of asbestos despite the slow progress countries have made. Only 60 of 200 countries have banned the use of asbestos. The majority of developed countries, minus the United States, have banned the use of the mineral. The report is for the countries that have not banned use of the carcinogen. The Asbestos Diseases Research Institute is the only research institute to fully be dedicated to asbestos related diseases. Some work of members has convinced countries to support a global asbestos ban.

The study looked at pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma as well as asbestosis. Lung cancer was excluded from the study because it has multiple causes. Mesothelioma is an extremely hard to treat cancer with a low life expectancy, generally around two years or less after diagnosis. The research report shows that there is a rise in asbestos related diseases in seven of eight categories when use of asbestos rises. Men saw an increase of 2.4 deaths per million from mesothelioma at each incremental rise of asbestos use. Women saw a rise of 1.8 per million. Data shows that countries with little asbestos use have a low incidence of asbestos related diseases while countries who use large levels of the carcinogen see an exponential rise of mortality rates. The report notes that the world is far from banning the use of asbestos, but this information needs to be used to quickly ban the use of asbestos.

The United States has increased asbestos regulations but has not banned the substance yet. There were 114 metric tons imported into the country in just the first quarter of 2022. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a ban that could be enacted as early as 2024. Stricter record-keeping and reporting of asbestos could also be enacted by 2023. The goal for many in the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute is to influence decision makers of countries to ban asbestos. If decision makers see the dangerous effects asbestos has on their populations, there is a greater chance that they will do the right thing and ban the cancer-causing material.

Emma M. Rath et al., “The Ecological Association between Asbestos Consumption and Asbestos-Related Diseases 15 Years Later” Environmental Health Perspectives (May 27, 2022). [Link]
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