Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Asbestos Deaths in U.S. Rising, Study Says

According to a recent article, about 10,000 people die each year from diseases caused by asbestos. These numbers are set to rise. This growing public health crisis was the subject of a new study carried out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in Washington, D.C. The study states that over the next ten years the number of deaths will far exceed 100,000. It also calls for a ban on asbestos and asks for federal asbestos screening.

Senator Orrin Hatch (Utah) called for a session to finish legislation to replace asbestos lawsuits with a victims' fund that would be supported by companies and insurers. However, Richard Wiles, the author of the report, called the Senate proposal “grossly insufficient,” adding that this was a public health issue, not an economic one.

The researchers in this study looked at deaths from just two causes: mesothelioma and asbestosis, gathering government data over a period of 25 years. While most deaths were among people who had been exposed to asbestos as a material for fire-proofing many years ago, over a million Americans today are exposed to asbestos in their work. Millions of others are exposed to asbestos in the environment. Inhaled asbestos fibers are linked to cancer and other illnesses. Concluded Wiles, “We're at the beginning of a tidal wave of asbestos diseases and mortality that needs to be brought to the attention of the public, federal policymakers and health officials."

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