07/29/2010 // New Delhi, India // Mesothelioma News Now! // India Mesothelioma Reporter
In spite of the fact that asbestos was once hailed as the cheapest and plentiful insulator and building material, the mineral is now being recognized as a harmful and dangerous carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other world health experts.
Asbestos has been shown to cause many diseases including lung cancer and asbestosis or malignant mesothelioma. According to the WHO, at least 90 thousand people die annually worldwide of these diseases as a result of asbestos exposure.
While many industrialized nations have forbidden the use of asbestos or seriously restrict it, India continues to import and use the mineral at an alarming rate, sending red flags up within medical community across the globe.
Recently, a British medical journal, The Lancet, published an article that forecasts grim findings: “India’s surging consumption of asbestos, the industry’s hefty political and economic clout, and the country’s poor record of worker protection….a sizeable burden of asbestos-related disease is inevitable” leading to health consequences that “will be felt into the next century.” This information means India is facing an eminent mesothelioma epidemic.
Forty countries around the world have banned chrysotile (white) asbestos, the most common form of the mineral. (The United States, however, is not one of those countries.) But between 2000 and 2007, India’s importation of asbestos increased at an alarming rate – from 125,000 metric tons to about 300,000.
Due to the extreme latency period of mesothelioma, taking between 30 to 50 years after exposure to for symptoms to develop, the amount of people who contract asbestos-related illnesses continues to increase, even in countries where it has been banned. Unfortunately, India does not have a process in order to track new cases of cancer so it will be hard for officials to gather accurate information as to how many asbestos-related diseases come in.
According to the Indian Health officials in The Lancet article, most Indian consumers have no idea of the toxicity of asbestos, what kinds of diseases it can develop, or that any safety legislation should be created to safeguard workers.
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