What Percentage of Lung Cancers are Caused by Asbestos?

What Percentage of Lung Cancers are Caused by Asbestos?
Worldwide, asbestos causes a death every 5 minutes. Based on this fact, you would think that asbestos would be included in the Rotterdam Convention list of hazardous substances. Unfortunately, this is not the case because Canada still refuses to be a signatory to this document. This is very disappointing, particularly because it is a proven fact that exposure to asbestos is deadly. In the words of the Globe and Mail, Canada has a chronic problem with asbestos because of our backward stance on this issue.
What is perhaps even more troubling is the fact that the actual death toll from asbestos is probably higher because asbestos is not the cause identified for all cases of lung cancer. Recently, a Canadian study concluded that 3% of all lung cancers were caused by occupational exposure to asbestos.
According to the GloboCan fact sheet there are approximately 1.6 million cases of lung cancer each year. If you apply the findings of the Canadian study, this means that approximately 48,000 more cases of cancer are caused by exposure to asbestos. Considering that the mortality rate of lung cancer is approximately 80%, this means that nearly 39,000 new deaths are caused by exposure to asbestos.
Putting this into perspective, according to the WHO, 107,000 people die from asbestos each year. If you factor in the the Canadian study which concludes that 3% of lung cancers are actually caused by asbestos exposure, then the actual death rate is nearly 146,000 per year, nearly 37% more deaths from asbestos.
Considering that 125 million people are exposed to asbestos at the workplace each year and the fact that disease from asbestos exposure manifests itself 20 years later, the sad reality is the number of deaths from asbestos will continue to rise. Canada’s refusal to demonstrate leadership with respect to the inclusion of asbestos on the Rotterdam Convention list of hazardous substances simply makes this situation worse because it is clear that the use of asbestos should be banned throughout the world
Further Reading
Saskatchewan, First Canadian Province, to Create Asbestos Registry
Canadian Asbestos Regulations
How Many People Die From Asbestos Each Year?
10 Interesting Facts About Asbestos in the USA [Infographic]
Renovating? Read This Message From Our President!

10 Interesting Historical Facts About Asbestos [Infographic]
ADAO – Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
The Asbestos Epidemic in America
WHO | Asbestos: elimination of asbestos-related diseases
The Jig Is Up For The Asbestos Industry!
Canada’s Asbestos Industry Could End!
Elliot Lake, Ontario Residents Exposed to Asbestos Dust
Should I Be Concerned About Asbestos?
The Politics of Asbestos: Canada’s Ugly Secret
Quebec Pumps $58 Million into Certain Death
The Asbestos Abatement Process
Why is Asbestos so Scary?
Got Asbestos?
Asbestos Removal and Abatement
Asbestos Is The “Ideal Carcinogen”

One thought on “What Percentage of Lung Cancers are Caused by Asbestos?

  1. Deidre vanGerven

    If you smoke you have a 10.2% chance of developing lung cancer. If you worked with asbestos and smoked it jumps to a 54% chance of developing lung cancer.
    The Chrysotile Institute (CI), formerly known as the Asbestos Institute, surrendered its charter to the Ministry of Industry on April 5, 2012.1 This took place 5 days after its suite of offices at 1200 McGill College in downtown Montreal had been vacated. According to the Assistant Building Manager, the CI had occupied suite 1640 for at least 15 years. When the lease ran out, the office was shut and three people were put out of work. They left no forwarding address or phone number; calls made to the phone number on their website and emails sent to the CI website go unanswered. The CI’s President Clement Godbout has stated that the Institute could re-open if Canadian asbestos mines, none of which is currently operational, resume production.2 Though this seems highly unlikely it is not impossible given the strong political and public support for asbestos mining expressed by the governments in Ottawa and Quebec.

    For nearly 30 years, the Chrysotile Institute and its predecessor coordinated global efforts to promote and sell chrysotile asbestos, a substance known to cause cancer and other fatal diseases. The propaganda initiatives mounted by the CI, which was endowed with millions of taxpayers’ dollars, were pivotal in creating commercial markets for asbestos throughout the developing world. Long after industrialized countries had banned asbestos, consumption was increased in many Asian countries, largely as a result of the CI’s efforts. Institute personnel curried favour with politicians and decision makers through their dispensation of huge sums of money. CI largesse enabled twelve national asbestos associations to be set up to broadcast the pro-asbestos message more effectively. It is not coincidental that asbestos use continues in India, Thailand, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, countries where these organizations exist. The CI’s mothballed website boasts that the Institute has participated in “activities intended to promote the controlled use of chrysotile (asbestos)” in more than 60 countries on five continents.3
    Read more on this at

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