According to a recent study entitled ‘Global magnitude of reported and unreported mesothelioma’, the number of deaths related to asbestos exposures worldwide has been dramatically underestimated, as some major asbestos-using nations are failing to report any related cancers.
If you or your staff have a risk of being exposed to Asbestos, at a very minimum you should have asbestos awareness training. Don’t expose yourself to letting your staff go by without asbestos training.
A group of experts from Japan, Taiwan and the UK say their analysis supports a worldwide ban on asbestos production and use. Their study, which claims to be the first to provide a global estimate of unreported cases of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, concludes that for every four to five reported cases of mesothelioma worldwide, at least one case goes unreported.
The authors assessed the relationship between country-level asbestos use from 1920 through 1970 and mesothelioma deaths reported between 1994 and 2008 (there is typically a latency period of decades between exposure and development of cancer).
Cumulative asbestos use in 89 countries, which accounted for more than 82% of the global population in the year 2000, totalled more than 65 million tonnes during 1920-1970. The US, Russia, UK, Germany and Japan led the group in asbestos use, defined as “production plus import minus export”.
For the 56 countries also reporting mesothelioma data, there were approximately 174,300 such deaths during 1994-2008. When the authors extrapolated this finding to the 33 countries not reporting mesothelioma data, they estimated 38,900 additional cases may have occurred in these countries during that same 15-year period. Estimates of asbestos-related lung cancer numbers are also based on the mesothelioma figure, so these deaths are likely to have been significantly underestimated too.
“Our most important finding is the magnitude of unreported mesothelioma in countries that use asbestos at substantial levels but report no cases of the disease,” said study co-author Ken Takahashi of the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Japan. “Such countries include Russia, Kazakstan, China and India, which rank in the top 15 countries for cumulative asbestos use.”
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