Asia is on track for a tsunami of asbestos diseases, warns a team of respiratory and asbestosis experts.
In an invited review in Respirology the team which included Bruce Robinson from the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases at the University of Western Australia said Asia was currently responsible for two thirds of global asbestos consumption.
With approximately 4.3 billion people, equating to 60% of the world’s current population and a high population growth rate, it was likely Asia will see a large crop of asbestos related lung diseases (ARD) in the next few decades, they said.
Some of the cases will be benign (asbestosis and plaques), but many would be cases of mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Exposure reduction, early detection of asbestosis and training in occupational lung diseases were all steps that were needed to minimise the risk of ARD in Asia, they said.
Writing in an accompanying editorial Paul Baas and Sjaak Burgers from The Netherlands said asbestos was a major health threat that had already ruined too many lives.
“We must help the developing world by finding suitable alternatives for asbestos as soon as possible or we will face an immense loss of quality of life and working potential in these countries,” they said.
The asbestos problem represents the beginning of a showdown between the World Trade Organization and World Health Organization, they added.