Because the Environmental Protection Agency began limiting the use of asbestos in the 1970s, many believe it is a disease of generations past. Unfortunately, it’s common use and the lack of a worldwide ban means it still poses significant risks. In fact, many predict resurgence.
In 1990, a convention met to examine the threat of asbestos exposure and success of the regulations. The group found that its use and mining had been reduced, but a danger still remained. They believed it would come in waves, starting with those who worked in steel mills and power plants. Next, it would hit those who dealt with asbestos products like insulation. Now a third wave is primed to hit those exposed to pipes, tiles, brakes and more.
Construction worker Kris Penny learned the hard way after stomach pain led to a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis at 34, decades before the cancer typically presents itself. Ten years prior, Penny worked to move fiber optic cables through cement conduit runs. What his employer failed to tell him was the piper were asbestos cement.
A recent analysis by the EWG Action Fund found 12,000 to 15,000 Americans are killed by asbestos each year. This number surpasses previous estimates because the group worked to find asbestos-related lung cancer cases and add them to the total. Many believe a lung cancer diagnosis comes only from smoking and don’t pursue it further, resulting in many asbestos-related deaths going unnoticed.
A French study published last month in Presse Medicale found a similar trend with malignant mesothelioma in France. According to the research, the disease will peak in France around 2020. Moreover, the researcher believed a worldwide trend would be noted among asbestos-related diseases.
The takeaway is despite what many believe, asbestos is still a growing threat. It’s not banned and it’s still found in products and buildings constructed prior to the restrictions.