Pennsylvania residents should know that the U.S. has not placed a general ban on asbestos. This toxic mineral is still -ound in many structures, and exposure to it can lead to serious health conditions like mesothelioma, which is a rare, aggressive and incurable disease. The World Health Organization estimates that every year, there are 105,000 to 110,000 deaths worldwide due to asbestos exposure.
However, a new study from the International Commission of Occupational Health shows that the actual number is double that of WHO estimates. ICOH calculated that in 2016, there were 222,321 cases of fatal asbestos-related disease among workers. That includes 39,275 people in the U.S.
According to researchers, asbestos-related deaths have been under-reported because in the past, it was more difficult to identify lung cancers caused by the mineral. In fact, asbestos leads to six times as many cases of lung cancer as it does to cases of mesothelioma. Out of those fatally injured in the U.S., 34,270 people died from lung cancer compared to 3,161 from mesothelioma. Asbestos also causes ovarian cancer, larynx cancer and asbestosis.
Sixty-two countries have banned asbestos, leaving over 100 that have not. Many developing countries, especially in Southeast Asia, are thought to carry no viable alternative to asbestos, but researchers reject this idea. They also believe that the U.S. and Europe are not doing enough about asbestos already in place.
When workers in the U.S. develop an occupational disease, they may be covered for their medical treatment, short- or long-term disability leave and other expenses. This will entail filing a workers compensation claim, and since the insurance provider may find reasons to deny restitution, it could be important to hire a lawyer for this process. In the case of a death, an eligible family member or other dependent may file for death benefits with legal assistance.