Why a Global Asbestos Ban is Overdue
By: Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center
October 18, 2018
Asbestos has a long history in the United States and around the world. Even though its negative health impacts were confirmed early into the 1920s, the mineral was heavily used through the 1970s in a myriad of applications. Today in the United States, it can still be legally used in small traces across certain products with a historic use. Past uses of asbestos leads to the toxin still existing in various products, vehicles, homes, public infrastructures, and other sites across the globe.
Many countries, including the United States, generally see a steady rate of mesothelioma diagnoses and deaths annually. As a result, the use of asbestos has been restricted, and a complete ban exists in nearly 60 countries. With little regard to the known dangers, asbestos continues to be a booming industry in other countries like Russia, India, and China who still actively mine, manufacture, consume, and export the mineral.
Researchers have determined the annual number of global mesothelioma deaths is approximately 38,400. Research explains that mesothelioma deaths have increased over time, which further proves that asbestos is a continuing health threat around the world. As more bans and regulations around asbestos exist, historic uses continue to riddle the health of many nations.
Asbestos Bans Around the World
Unfortunately, the majority of the world still allows the use of asbestos, including United States. The U.S. enforces strict regulations on the use of asbestos, but has yet to instill a complete and total ban. As global trade continues to grow, countries like Russia rely heavily on asbestos as an export to drive their economy. However, countries that were once among top consumers or producers of this toxin have passed laws to ban or limit its use.
Canada and Brazil are two of the most notable examples. Once two of the largest asbestos producers, each of these nations recently implemented total bans on the toxin within the past two years and just over 60 other countries have banned asbestos use so far. These bans are promising, as they show the world that these nations realize that the health risks of asbestos exposure far outweigh any potential benefits the mineral presents. Several more nations are showing hope for a ban in the near future.
Each year, 125 million people globally are exposed to asbestos on the job. Although occupational exposure is a massive risk, there are countless other instances for accidental asbestos exposures. Fortunately, each additional ban will lead to an improvement with regard to these daunting statistics.
When it comes to mesothelioma implications, there is still much work to happen to better prevent, diagnose, and treat the disease. While asbestos is still actively being used in several parts of the world, and its legacy uses remain scattered across thousands of applications everywhere, the risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases will hold true for future generations as a result of its long latency period.
Countries with global asbestos trade will likely see a continued rise of mesothelioma cases due to the latency period of the disease. An individual's diagnosis may not occur for up to 50 years following unknown initial exposure. In many nations, asbestos is still viewed as a miracle mineral, therefore prevention strategies are barely a thought for many who live in these regions.
While researchers have made progress in developing new diagnostic methods, including biomarkers in a patient’s blood and new treatment methods like immunotherapy, many of these developments aren’t equally available across borders of the world. Most regions lack the experience this rare cancer requires and are unable to correctly diagnose and treat the disease.
Asbestos-related diseases other than mesothelioma, like asbestosis or lung cancer, result in an estimated 107,000 deaths each year. Without a doubt, asbestos is a global health issue. Until more countries take action and implement total bans and work on removing historic uses that pose threats, these statistics cannot and will not change quickly.