Mesothelima Cases Likely Underreported Worldwide

The study is the first to provide a global estimate of unreported mesothelioma cases based on the collective experience of countries with available data on asbestos use and the disease.

For every four to five reported cases of mesothelioma worldwide, at least one case goes unreported, according to a study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. This study is the first to provide a global estimate of unreported mesothelioma cases based on the collective experience of countries with available data on asbestos use and the disease.

Malignant mesothelioma is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos. The disease is difficult to diagnose until it is far advanced, and the prognosis is usually poor. The study’s authors used numbers of mesothelioma deaths as a proxy for numbers of cases, because mesothelioma patients usually die shortly after diagnosis. Also, in many countries, deaths in general tend to be more uniformly and accurately reported than diagnoses.

The authors assessed the relationship between country-level asbestos use from 1920 through 1970 and mesothelioma deaths reported between 1994 and 2008. Cumulative asbestos use in 89 countries, which accounted for more than 82 percent of the global population in the year 2000, totaled more than 65 million metric tons during 1920–1970. The United States, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan led the group in asbestos use, defined as production plus import minus export. For the 56 countries also reporting mesothelioma data, there were approximately 174,300 such deaths during 1994–2008.

Mesothelioma typically develops 20–50 years after exposure to asbestos. Accordingly, a country’s cumulative use of asbestos in prior decades was found to clearly and reliably predict numbers of recent mesothelioma deaths in the countries reporting mortality data. When the authors extrapolated this finding to the 33 countries not reporting mesothelioma data, they estimated 38,900 additional cases may have occurred in these countries during that same 15-year period.

“Our most important finding is the magnitude of unreported mesothelioma in countries that use asbestos at substantial levels but report no cases of the disease,” says study co-author Ken Takahashi of the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Japan. Such countries include Russia, Kazakstan, China, and India, which rank in the top 15 countries for cumulative asbestos use.

Takahashi says any country that uses asbestos is certain to have cases of mesothelioma. He notes the study’s estimates may be conservative because both asbestos use and mesothelioma may be underreported in the countries used as the basis for their estimates.

The authors propose that every country ban the mining, use, and export of asbestos because, Takahashi says, mesothelioma can be prevented by eliminating exposure to asbestos. They also propose that developed countries share experience and technology to help developing countries better diagnose, report, and manage mesothelioma cases.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2019, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; pending OSHA recordkeeping rulemaking; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

    January 2019

    Featuring:

    • PREVENTING ERRORS
      Production vs. Safety 
    • EMERGENCY SHOWERS & EYEWASH
      Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment
    • CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
      The State of Contractor Safety
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      The Three Keys to Effective Chemical Management
    View This Issue