Data shows that Asian countries use the most asbestos.

In a recent press release, health officials warn that morbidity and asbestos-related diseases in Asia may increase sharply over the next 20 years, as Asia now accounts for 64 percent of asbestos use worldwide.

Dr. Ken Takahashi, Acting Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Occupational Health, and his team put together important data on asbestos use in 47 Asian countries in an article in Respirology.

Their data showed that Cyprus, Israel and Japan had the highest age-adjusted mortality rates in Asia.

Asian countries accounted for 64% of the global consumption of asbestos in the period of 2001-2007, a striking increase from 14% between 1920 and 1970. This is a result of unregulated asbestos import and use in many Asian countries.

“Despite concerns of the global ARD epidemic and Asia’s growing importance in the world, data on current asbestos use and asbestos related diseases in Asia remain limited,” said Dr. Ken Takahashi.

Asbestos – a serious health threat

The WHO identifies asbestos as one of the most dangerous occupational carcinogens, declaring the need to eliminate asbestos use and associated health damages. An estimated 107,000 people worldwide die from asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber commonly used for insulation in constructions. It is relatively affordable, which makes it attractive in developing countries.

Asbestos-related lung diseases, particularly mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis (asbestos induced lung fibrosis), typically develop after decades of lag time from first exposure.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

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