Confirmation of Asbestos Hazard
Research just published by authoritative bodies not only confirms the health hazard posed by asbestos exposure but also widens the range of diseases known to be caused by all the commercial types of asbestos fibers. In March, 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued A Review of Human Carcinogens: Arsenic, Metals, Fibres, and Dusts; this text has been deemed the most recent, credible and comprehensive paper about (the) carcinogenicity of asbestos by a leading Asian expert on asbestos issues.1 The section on asbestos, which takes up 90 pages of this 499-page document, is conclusive in its findings, stating that:
There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of all forms of asbestos (chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite). Asbestos causes mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx, and ovary. Also positive associations have been observed between exposure to all forms of asbestos and cancer of the pharynx, stomach, and colorectum. For cancer of the colorectum, the Working Group was evenly divided as to whether the evidence was strong enough to warrant classification as sufficient.
There is sufficient evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of all forms of asbestos (chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite).
There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of talc containing asbestiform fibres. Talc containing asbestiform fibres causes cancer of the lung and mesothelioma.
There is inadequate evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of talc containing asbestiform fibres.
All forms of asbestos (chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite) are carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).
Talc containing asbestiform fibres is carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)
Shortly after the IARC publication was released, the peer-reviewed journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine published the paper: Cardiovascular disease mortality among British asbestos workers (1971-2005), which proved what had long been suspected: workers exposed to asbestos are at an increased risk of death from cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease and strokes.2 The study conducted by staff at the Health and Safety Laboratory, the research arm of the UK's Health and Safety Executive, followed up a cohort of nearly 100,000 asbestos workers and found that amongst the males, most of whom had worked in the asbestos removal industry, there was a 63% increase in fatalities from strokes and a 39% increase in deaths caused by heart disease; amongst women manufacturing workers, there was a 100% increase in stroke-related deaths and an 89% increase in deaths from heart disease. The researchers conclude that These findings provide some evidence that occupational exposure to asbestos was associated with cardiovascular disease mortality in this group of workers.
April 8, 2012
1IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 100C (2012) A Review of Human Carcinogens: Arsenic, Metals, Fibres, and Dusts.
2 Harding A-H, Darnton A, Osman J. Cardiovascular disease mortality among British asbestos workers (1971-2005). J. Occup Environ Med . Doi:10.1136/oemed-20110199313