Mesothelioma and Asbestosis Global Health Epidemic on the Horizon

The lung diseases asbestosis and mesothelioma have been proven for decades to be a result of asbestos exposure. Yet, asbestos continues to be mined, and employers still fail to protect workers from the dangers of asbestos. Faint warnings to the public have been made barely audible, and a deadly global health epidemic is looming on the horizon.

Asbestosis and mesothelioma are the subjects of 21st century international reports warning international officials, advocacy workers, and the general public of an impending epidemic of these two devastating diseases. Asbestosis and mesothelioma, which are caused by exposure to asbestos, take decades to surface symptoms, and the retired workers of yesteryear’s thriving asbestos industries are beginning to suffer from asbestos related diseases today.

In countries like Brazil, workers suffered decades under corrupt politics, medical care was discouraged, workers were randomly dismissed from employment, and diagnostic tests were not made available to support any identification or claim for asbestosis or mesothelioma. It is only recently that unions protecting workers have surfaced, but for thousands of asbestos workers, it is too late to avoid succumbing to the harsh lung disease of asbestosis or the fatal cancer of mesothelioma.

As workers and innocent home dwellers continue to be exposed to asbestos, the death estimates due to asbestos related diseases will continue to reach into the next half century. Factories in China spew asbestos from their factories into neighboring cities. In Africa, a state of emergency has been requested in asbestos filled territories where hundred-mile stretches are filled with residents living, working and sleeping while surrounded by airborne asbestos fibers.

In India, the European Asbestos Removal Association (EARA) issued a 2008 report titled “India’s Asbestos Time Bomb” which warns of India’s future burden of caring for tens of thousands of asbestosis and mesothelioma patients as a result of India’s infatuation with asbestos products. In this asbestos removal report, comparisons are made between the export levels of India and the UK. In just two decades, India’s asbestos imports surpassed the levels that the UK used in their entire industrial history. The UK is now facing record levels of occupational disease, with thousands dying from mesothelioma every year. Despite the UK’s forewarning of the future, India continues to import massive tons of asbestos products annually, and corporations with significant monetary interest encourage unsuspecting consumers to embrace the use of asbestos products.

Even with indiscriminate medical records that deflate the actual deaths due to asbestosis and mesothelioma, the World Health Organization estimates that asbestosis and mesothelioma will be responsible for 90,000 deaths around the world in a single year. As long as asbestos continues to be mined, imported and exported – the numbers will continue to rise over the next century.

Asbestosis and mesothelioma are not diseases that are easily recognized by physicians or the lay citizen. The public must be made aware of the dangers of working with, and living with, asbestos made products. Scientists and manufacturers must race to discover the economic answer to replace asbestos products with a safer alternative. But with or without change, the next decade will surface the consequences of haphazard occupational healthcare as the children of tomorrow care for the asbestos workers of today.

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