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
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