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Asbestos-related deaths may be double what previously thought

According to the International Commission on Occupational Health, a non-govermental organization dedicated to workers' health issues, deaths caused by asbestos exposure are likely to be significantly higher than reported.

New research shows deadly effects of asbestos 

On April 14, the president of ICOH, Dr. Jukka Takala, spoke at the 14th Annual Asbestos Disease Awareness Conference in Washington, D.C. At the conference, Dr. Takala revealed research that asbestos-related fatalities may be double the number previously thought.

His latest data shows nearly 40,000 annual deaths from asbestos-related illnesses. Dr. Takala called for a complete ban on asbestos in all countries to curb these preventable deaths.

His data revealed annual death totals of:

  • 34,270 from lung cancer (specifically caused by asbestos exposure)
  • 3,161 from mesothelioma (asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma)
  • 787 from ovarian cancer (asbestos has been found in talc products such as baby powder)
  • 613 from chronic asbestosis
  • 443 from larynx cancer

Asbestos-related deaths not declining

Worldwide, medical associations and workplace health groups have long called for a complete ban on asbestos. While mesothelioma deaths showed a steady decline for decades, this new data suggests that asbestos remains a deadly risk for workers around the world, including in the U.S.

We must continue to be vigilant about asbestos

Unfortunately, the risk asbestos poses to workers is not receiving as much attention as it used to. For example, a recent study we wrote about on our blog showed that 20 percent of construction workers may be unaware that asbestos causes cancer. The same number did not know what to do if asbestos was found on a property.

It is clear that asbestos awareness efforts are as needed as ever. As for workers exposed to asbestos, and their families, there remain legal options to pursue financial help for the extensive costs associated with mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

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