Nearly a Quarter-Million Lives Lost to Asbestos Each Year, Experts Say
Although asbestos use is banned in all the countries of the European Union and many others around the world, the legacy of its use means that tens of thousands are stilling dying each year because of exposure to the toxin.
This is despite the fact that its hazardous properties were well-known as far back as the late 1800s.
Prior to an upcoming anti-asbestos campaign to take place in London later this week, experts on the topic of asbestos exposure proclaimed the following, eager to highlight the still-existing dangers associated with the material, which is mined in several locations around the world and still not banned in many countries, including the United States.
“Latest estimates suggest as many as a quarter of a million lives may be lost every year to the work-related effects of exposure to asbestos,” explained Dr Jukka Takala, from the Workplace Safety and Health Institute in Singapore and President of the International Commission on Occupational Health, who revealed the toll of work-related lung cancers along with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland.
He spoke in support of the U.K.’s Institute for National Safety and Health’s (IOSH) No Time to Lose (NTTL) asbestos campaign, which will address the dangers presented to construction workers and others who may encounter asbestos as they go about their work.
“I have been pleased to support the IOSH No Time to Lose campaign over the past four years as it tackles the global burden of occupational cancer in a practical way by enlisting the support of companies, the occupational safety and health professionals who dedicate their working lives to the health and well-being of their colleagues, and transnational organizations like the International Commission on Occupational Health and the Workplace Safety and Health Institute in Singapore, to which I am affiliated.”
In the United Kingdom, which – along with Australia – has the highest rates of mesothelioma on the planet, an estimated 20 tradespeople die each week of work-related asbestos exposure.
- Steel workers
- Textile workers
- Chemical plan employees
- Railroad workers
And many others
Though asbestos was banned in the U.K. in 1999, old uses of asbestos are still a problem and it’s not unusual for any of these tradespeople to encounter asbestos on the job.
The risk is about the same in the U.S. for those who practice those aforementioned professions. Indeed, the risk is always present and precautions should always be taken to avoid exposure.
Sadly, however, some 2,500-3,000 Americans will die this year from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, and most of those cases could have been avoided had employees taken the proper steps to protect workers.
Thankfully, some victims have been able to successfully sue for damages, securing monetary compensation that will help support the families they leave behind. But nothing can turn the pages back and save each mesothelioma victim from a disease that normally kills within a year or two.
And the sad truth is that little will change until the United States bans the toxic mineral, which will not likely happen any time in the near future.