Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

Study: More Than 10,000 Americans Killed by Asbestos Every Year

June 20, 2015

Washington, DC An analysis from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund suggests that as many as 15,000 Americans die every year due to asbestos exposure. Workers exposed to asbestos through drilling mud, construction materials and a host of other products are at an increased risk of asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

The EWG Action Fund said in its news release that an analysis of death records from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from 1999 to 2013 showed asbestos exposure was linked to between 12,000 and 15,000 deaths annually. The EWG looked specifically at deaths linked to mesothelioma or asbestosis, which are solely attributed to asbestos exposure. It also estimated the number of Americans who died of lung cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

Because asbestos-related diseases have a lag time of decades between asbestos exposure and development of symptoms, even though the use of asbestos has declined, the number of annual deaths has remained steady. The organization also noted that the number of deaths reported might still be lower than the actual number of deaths because the study did not take into account other asbestos-related diseases.

The analysis found that between 1999 and 2013, mesothelioma was listed as cause of death in 39,870 deaths, or 2,848 deaths a year. Asbestos was linked to 20,317 deaths, or 1,451 deaths annually. The two conditions combined were blamed for a total of 1,285 deaths, or 92 per year.

Lung cancer, which was estimated using a formula developed by researchers of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, was linked to between 127,579 and 159,480 deaths in total, or between 9,113 to 11,391 deaths per year.

Previous estimates of asbestos-related deaths put the annual figure at between 2,000 and 5,000 fewer each year.

“Clearly, asbestos kills more Americans each year than we thought,” said Sonya Lunder, a senior research analyst with the EWG and EWG Action Fund in a news release.
“The fact that it is still legal and used in the U.S. is an outrage.”

Lawsuits have been filed against various companies and employers alleging workers, their loved ones and consumers have been exposed to asbestos and not properly warned about the risks.