According to a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), thousands of people continue to die every year from malignant mesothelioma, even though asbestos has been heavily regulated for several decades.
In fact, as detailed in this recent CDC report, more than 45,000 deaths were linked to malignant mesothelioma from 1999 to 2015, with nearly five percent more people dying in 2015 than 1999 ― meaning things are not getting any better.
While more than half of the mesothelioma victims were over the age of 75, the report also discovered that 682 younger individuals between the ages of 25 and 45 also passed away, which is particularly surprising since asbestos has been subject to regulation for most of their lives.
However, a recent NPR story may have an explanation for the unexpected death toll among younger individuals. Specifically, these victims may have been exposed to asbestos that was originally installed in buildings and homes decades ago, but was disturbed more recently during renovations or demolition projects. Given how these victims are exposed, they are sometimes referred to as the “third wave” of those with asbestos-related illnesses ― with asbestos miners/manufacturers and tradesmen representing the first two waves.
Sadly, there is ample evidence to support this “third wave” theory. For example, investigators involved in the recent CDC report noted that as recently as 2003, an alarming 20 percent of air samples collected on construction sites exceeded OSHA limits for asbestos.
The unfortunately reality, however, is that it will likely be several decades before we fully understand just how widespread of a problem this is, especially since asbestos-related illnesses can take years to develop following exposure.