Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Asbestos: An ongoing challenge to global health

09.12.2014

What we need to learn from history, according to a new study in the Annals of Global Health

Challenges to global health can evolve from policies and decisions that take years or decades to unfold. An article in the current issue of the Annals of Global Health describes the current state of asbestos use worldwide, a story that began over 100 years ago, and the real and contrived controversies regarding asbestos.


This is a pie chart of global asbestos fiber consumption in 2012.

Credit: International Ban Asbestos Secretariat & Citi Research

At the peak of asbestos use in 1972 in the United States, more than 775,000 tons of asbestos were used, much of it by the construction trades and shipbuilding industry, in addition to the manufacturing of many consumer products. As the health risks associated with asbestos have become evident, more than 50 countries have banned asbestos, although India and the United States have not.

As investigators Arthur L. Frank, MD, PhD, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, and T.K. Joshi, MBBS, MS (Surgery), Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India, relate, "Unfortunately, as the developed world was banning or constricting the use of asbestos, the developing world was greatly increasing its use of this toxic material.

Major producers such as Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and Brazil continue to produce and export asbestos to countries around the world, especially to low- and middle-income countries that too often have weak or nonexistent occupational and environmental regulations." They note that India produces little asbestos, but has become a major importer with exponential growth in manufacture of asbestos cement and pipes.

Asbestos minerals are divided into two groups, amphibole and serpentine, based on their chemistry and fiber morphology. The amphibole group includes crocidolite, amosite, tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite asbestos. The serpentine group is comprised solely of chrysotile asbestos, and it accounts for some 90% to 95% of all the asbestos used worldwide.

Two groups of diseases are associated with exposures to asbestos: nonmalignant diseases, which can be fatal, and cancer. The nonmalignant diseases associated with exposure to asbestos include asbestos warts, benign asbestotic pleural effusion, and asbestosis.

The now disproven belief that chrysotile asbestos is safe and the actions of the governments of Canada and India to support asbestos production in the face of strong epidemiological data show that this is not a strictly science-driven issue. Canada has recently had a turnabout and will likely exit the asbestos business, but India remains recalcitrant.

Dr. Frank and Dr. Joshi report on how the global spread of asbestos is changing but that there are still examples of flawed science being used to justify continued use. They suggest that, because of economic issues for asbestos producers, there "are far more insidious actions that follow a pattern first established by the tobacco industry in hiring public relations firms to obfuscate the scientific issues so that tobacco could still be sold...Similarly, the asbestos industry adopted the view that a public relations campaign was needed to quash the rising concerns about its health hazards."

The authors caution that eventually the truths regarding asbestos exposure and its true hazards will be recognized and acted upon, but only after economic forces are overcome.

Eileen Leahy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.elsevierhealth.com/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Infants later diagnosed with autism follow adults’ gaze, but seldom initiate joint attention
24.05.2019 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

nachricht When wheels and heads are spinning - DFG research project on motion sickness in automated driving
22.05.2019 | Technische Universität Berlin

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New studies increase confidence in NASA's measure of Earth's temperature

A new assessment of NASA's record of global temperatures revealed that the agency's estimate of Earth's long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.

The most complete assessment ever of statistical uncertainty within the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) data product shows that the annual values...

Im Focus: The geometry of an electron determined for the first time

Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.

The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

On Mars, sands shift to a different drum

24.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Piedmont Atlanta first in Georgia to offer new minimally invasive treatment for emphysema

24.05.2019 | Medical Engineering

Chemical juggling with three particles

24.05.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>