Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

Article Shows Staggering Number of Years Lost to Asbestosis and Mesothelioma

August 18, 2013

Dallas, TX A new report on asbestosis and mesothelioma suggests that a staggering number of years of life are lost to asbestosis lung disease and mesothelioma. The study, using information from the World Health Organization, was undertaken to estimate the global burden of mesothelioma and asbestosis disease.

For the study, published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, researchers examined all deaths linked to asbestosis and mesothelioma reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1994 to 2010. They took information from the WHO and applied the Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL) to estimate years lost to asbestosis and mesothelioma, which are caused by exposure to asbestos.

Data from the WHO indicated that 128,015 people died of mesothelioma in 82 countries and 13,885 died of asbestosis in 55 countries during the study period. That is a total of 2.18 million potential years of life lost to mesothelioma and 180,000 potential years of life lost to asbestos. On average, each person who died of mesothelioma lost 17.0 potential years of life, while those who died of asbestosis lost 13.0 potential years of life.

“The current burden of asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) in terms of PYLL is substantial,” researchers wrote. “The future burden of ARDs can be eliminated by stopping the use of asbestos.”

People who are exposed to airborne asbestos fibers are at risk of developing mesothelioma and asbestosis. Exposure can occur at work - especially if the person works in industries that use asbestos frequently - or at home, if construction products were made with asbestos and the asbestos fibers are disturbed, such as during a remodeling project. Even with exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma and asbestosis can take decades to appear. Both are fatal conditions.

Lawsuits have been filed against various companies alleging employees should have been better protected from asbestos exposure and claiming the companies knew about the risks associated with asbestos exposure but did not properly warn employees or provide adequate safety gear.

Unfortunately, people are still exposed to asbestos today, and although there are safety guidelines designed to protect employees and consumers, some employers still take shortcuts and fail to properly ensure their employees are adequately protected from asbestos exposure.