Asbestos Deaths Remain A Public Health Problem

People are still dying of cancer linked to asbestos, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says, despite decades of regulations meant to limit dangerous exposure.

Starting in 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulated how much asbestos workers can be exposed to, because it contains tiny fibers that can cause lung disease or cancer if they are swallowed or inhaled.

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates asbestos too, setting requirements for inspecting, demolishing and renovating buildings that contain materials made with asbestos, like insulation, vinyl tiles, roofing, shingles and paint.

But, a recent CDC analysis found that thousands of people are still dying each year from a type of cancer called malignant mesothelioma that is associated with inhaling asbestos fibers, even briefly or in small amounts. Even after decades of regulation, between 1999 and 2015 there were 45,221 mesothelioma deaths in the U.S. The majority of those who died were men.

The greatest increase is among people over 85 years old, who were likely exposed to asbestos many years ago. It can take anywhere from two to seven decades for mesothelioma to develop after a person inhales asbestos fibers. And early deaths among people 35 to 65 are down overall.

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Source: Asbestos Deaths Remain A Public Health Problem


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