The World Health Organization, WHO, has warned low and middle-income countries that use all types of asbestos in building and transport industries of the risk of facing a surge of deaths in the coming decades.
The organization published a study yesterday, showing that cancer deaths caused by asbestos exposure would increase in many low and middle-income countries that continued to use the mineral in building and transport industries.
The study counted total deaths reported to WHO from malignant mesothelioma, a rare but fatal cancer. It usually takes longer than 30 years to develop but, once diagnosed, average survival time is less than one year.
WHO’s scientist Dr. Ivan Ivanov said: “We know the risks. All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic and may cause mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary, as well as other diseases. Even if these countries stop using asbestos today, they are going to see an increase in asbestos-related deaths for many decades to come.”
Malignant mesothelioma affects the protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs, most commonly the outer lining of the lungs and the chest wall, but also the lining of the abdominal cavity, and sacs around the heart and testes.
The data revealed that between 1994 and 2008, about 88 per cent of the 92,000 deaths from malignant mesothelioma occurred in older men in high-income settings, including Australia, Japan, the United States and many European countries.
Researcher Ken Takahashi, from the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu City, Japan, said: “We found that mesothelioma deaths are starting to decrease in the USA but are still increasing in Europe and Japan, reflecting the time lag following historical use of asbestos. The real concern is that many developing countries continue to use this deadly material but don’t report data to WHO on the deaths it causes.”
However, the report showed that the cancer which is always traced to exposure to asbestos, is starting to fall in high-income countries because of widespread prohibition of its use there.
Jobs at highest risk for exposure to asbestos include: abestos Workers, railroad Workers, construction Workers, demolition Workers, asbestos miners, paper mills, brick masons, and dozens more Industries.
The World Health Organization is calling on countries to stop using all types of asbestos.