We know that mesothelioma is diagnosed in 3,000 Americans every year. We also know that there are many other diseases caused by asbestos – including asbestosis, lung cancer and others. In the past, the EWG Action Fund estimated that about 10,000 Americans died from asbestos exposure every year. A new analysis, however, found that the actual number is up to 15,000 Americans per year.
Another important takeaway from the analysis was that even after 50 years of known medical research linking asbestos to toxic diseases, the American government still can’t completely predict the number of people who die from exposure.
The analysis was taken by EWG Action Fund’s researchers who analyzed Centers for Disease Control death records between the years 1999 to 2013. The researchers identified all deaths that were attributed solely or in part to mesothelioma or asbestosis – two diseases caused by asbestos exposure. The researchers also estimated how many Americans die from asbestos-triggered lung cancer using a special formula developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Final results showed that asbestos exposure was responsible for the deaths of 12,000 to 15,000 Americans every year for a fourteen-year period. That’s anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 more deaths than previous estimates.
“Clearly, asbestos kills more Americans each year than we thought,” said Sonya Lunder, a senior research analyst with EWG and EWG Action Fund, on the EWG Action Fund website. “The fact that it is still legal and used in the United States is an outrage.”
Even though asbestos use is banned in 55 countries, it is not banned in the U.S. About 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Certain occupations are at higher risk for exposure, especially firefighters, construction workers, auto mechanics and teachers. This is because asbestos was often used in products and materials they come in contact with, including insulation, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, decorative paints, brake pads and more. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
What can be done to lower the number of Americans who die from asbestos exposure every year? Some would argue the best option is to fully ban the toxic mineral.
“The only way to see the numbers of asbestos-related fatalities significantly decline among Americans is for our elected leaders to adopt an outright ban on the deadly substance,” said Lunder.