Occupational Health & Safety

First Australian Mesothelioma Report Confirms 612 Cases

Released by Safe Work Australia, this is the first annual report summarizing new diagnoses collected in the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, a new national registry that became operational in 2011.

The initial annual report covering newly diagnosed cases of mesothelioma in Australia lists 612 cases, for a rate of 2.7 per 100,000 population, according to Safe Work Australia, which released it Sept. 13. The data come from the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, a new national registry that became operational in 2011; the agency cautions in the report that the 612 cases are "considered an underestimate of the total number of people diagnosed in 2011 at this stage, due to possible delays in confirming or coding some diagnoses."

As of Aug. 31, 2012, a total of 310 deaths among people diagnosed in 2011 had been reported -– equal to 50.7 percent of the cases.

Men account for 84.5 percent of the diagnosed cases, and 78.8 percent of the cases are people 65 or older at diagnosis. The report says 100 people with mesothelioma have completed the asbestos exposure questionnaire and 87 also completed a telephone interview. Of the 87 patients for whom asbestos exposure was assessed:

  • six were assessed as having neither occupational nor non‐occupational exposure
  • 14 were assessed as having occupational exposure only
  • 35 were assessed as having both occupational and non‐occupational exposuresM.li>
  • 32 were assessed as having non‐occupational exposure only

Construction and building trades had the highest exposure likelihood, followed by electrical and related trades, according to the report.

Australia has one of the highest incidence rates of malignant mesothelioma in the world, according to the report. Until the mid‐1980s, Australia produced and was one of the world's highest users per capita of asbestos in insulation and flooring materials, wall and roof sheeting, brake linings, fireproofing, and other products. General use of asbestos in gaskets and brakes was discontinued on Dec. 31, 2003, when the use and importation of all forms of asbestos was prohibited in Australia.

The registry includes all new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in Australia after July 1, 2010.

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