Mesothelioma Deaths Not Decreasing Despite Asbestos Regulation

July 28, 2018

It wouldn’t be farfetched to believe that asbestos and its related diseases would have decreased in recent years in the United States. The material’s toxicity is well known and understood and has been since at least the 1970s. Even those who only have a rudimentary understanding of asbestos and its effects know that it’s bad for you. Governments and corporations also know about the substance’s carcinogenic properties, but that doesn’t mean that asbestos is completely absent from everyday life.

This, among other reasons, is why the number of asbestos-related disease diagnoses has remained consistent annually. While it’s largely illegal to produce or manufacture products containing asbestos in the United States, there is no law prohibiting the importation of such products. In fact, 340 million metric tons of asbestos were imported into the United States in 2016 alone. Most of that raw asbestos was used in chemical factories as a filter for creating chlorine and sodium hydroxide. It could also be found in many of the following imported products:

  • Building materials
  • Millboard
  • Brake pads and brake linings (and other automotive parts)
  • Yarns
  • Thread
  • Gaskets

Mesothelioma Diagnoses and Deaths

Mesothelioma is one of the major diseases directly caused by exposure to asbestos. It is a rare kind of cancer that affects the lining of certain organs (most commonly, the lungs). Most people diagnosed with the disease survive just about a year. Despite this, scientists largely theorized that mesothelioma diagnoses and deaths would start decreasing dramatically after 2005. This is because most of the exposure to asbestos occurred sometime prior to 1980. Symptoms of mesothelioma take several decades to start cropping up.

Unfortunately, the amount of diagnoses has remained consistent at around 3,000 per year in the United States since 2005. On top of that, deaths have actually increased since 1999. Between 1999 and 2015, the United States saw a little over 45,000 deaths related to mesothelioma. There were 118 more mesothelioma deaths in 2015 than there were in 1999. The majority (around 36,000) of those casualties were 65 or older, which researchers expected. But, individuals younger than 65 are still losing their lives to the disease.

What Does This Mean?

What all of this indicates is that asbestos is still out there and workers are still being exposed to it even after the material fell out of widespread use. A 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that the “annual number of malignant mesothelioma deaths remains substantial.” They also advocated for better scrutiny of older buildings during demolition or remodels and more regulation and restriction on asbestos importation in the United States.

Of course, these are small steps toward ensuring that asbestos can no longer take the lives of innocent people, but they are steps that are needed. The end goal would be an outright ban on the substance meaning that no one in the United States could ever be exposed to it again. That may be several years in the future. In the meantime, anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma could seek legal action against employers and corporations who contributed to their needless suffering.

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, call or email us for a free consultation.