Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

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Asbestos Statistics

When a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and has subsequently developed an asbestos-related disease, the best place to start is to learn more about asbestos. The term asbestos refers to six naturally occurring fibrous minerals that are found naturally in some environments and in commercial products to which they have been added. Asbestos exists on every continent and in hundreds of countries worldwide. While the U.S. Bureau of Mines lists over 100 mineral fibers as “asbestos-like,” the U.S. government regulates only six of these asbestos minerals due to their known harmful health effects on humans.

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 27 million American workers were exposed to asbestos on the job between 1940 and 1980
  • Before everyone became aware of the health effects of asbestos, at least 3,000 products made and used in the US contained asbestos
  • White asbestos —or Chrysotile asbestos—was used in more than 90% of all commercial products containing asbestos
  • One reputable epidemiological study estimated that over 200,000 people have or will die because of asbestos related diseases between 1980 and 2030.
  • Between 1999 and 2005, over 18,000 Americans died of mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure.
  • Each year, over 1,200 people die from asbestosis, another health effect of asbestos exposure.
  • Shipyard workers are one of the groups with the highest risk of asbestos exposure and asbestos-related disease. One report suggests that 100,000 shipyard workers and sailors will die as a result of asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis and asbestos mesothelioma.