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Module 2: Recognition of Asbestos and Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACMs)
Module 3: Legal and Regulatory Framework
Module 4: Safe Work Practices & Control Measures
Module 5: Decontamination & Disposal
Module 6: Case Studies & Best Practices

1E. Global & Australian Statistics

Asbestos-related diseases remain a significant public health concern both in Australia and around the world. The statistics highlight the extensive impact of past asbestos use and underscore the ongoing need for vigilance and preventive measures among workers and the general population.

Global Impact

  • Worldwide Incidence: Asbestos-related diseases cause an estimated 100,000 to 140,000 deaths globally each year. This includes cases of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, reflecting the widespread historical use of asbestos in various industries.
  • Occupational Exposure: A significant portion of these diseases are attributed to occupational exposure, affecting construction workers, miners, shipyard workers, and others who have worked directly with asbestos-containing materials.

Impact in Australia

  • High Rates of Mesothelioma: Australia reports one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world, with approximately 700 to 800 new cases diagnosed annually. This high incidence rate is directly related to Australia’s extensive use of asbestos in the past, particularly until the mid-1980s.
  • Asbestos Bans and Legacy: Despite a comprehensive asbestos ban implemented in 2003, the legacy of asbestos use continues to affect Australians, with many buildings and infrastructures still containing asbestos.
  • Continued Health Burden: Beyond mesothelioma, Australians continue to be diagnosed with other asbestos-related conditions, including lung cancer and asbestosis. These diseases contribute to a significant health burden and highlight the need for ongoing asbestos management and removal efforts.

Significance for Workers and the General Population

  • Long-Term Health Risks: The statistics demonstrate the long-term health risks associated with asbestos exposure, affecting not just those who were directly exposed to asbestos in their workplaces but also individuals exposed indirectly through environmental contamination or by living in buildings containing asbestos.
  • Need for Awareness and Prevention: These figures emphasize the importance of continued awareness, education, and prevention strategies to protect current and future generations from the dangers of asbestos. It highlights the need for strict enforcement of safety regulations, regular health screenings for at-risk individuals, and the safe management and removal of existing asbestos to prevent further exposure.
  • Legal and Compensation Frameworks: The ongoing impact of asbestos-related diseases in Australia has also led to the development of comprehensive legal and compensation frameworks to support affected individuals and their families, recognizing the long-term implications of asbestos exposure on public health.

Conclusion

The statistics on asbestos-related diseases and deaths paint a stark picture of the consequences of asbestos use. For Australia, which has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma globally, and other affected countries, these numbers serve as a reminder of the critical need for continued efforts in asbestos management, education, and disease prevention.