Korea Expects Asbestos Deaths to Peak in 2045
Last year, the World Health Organization updated its estimate of how many people are killed annually due to asbestos exposure from 90,000 to 107,000, but sadly that number will likely only go up in coming years.
One country in particular that expects to see its asbestos death toll rise is Korea. According to the Korea Herald, the nation’s Ministry of Environment estimated in a recent report that asbestos-related deaths – which typically are the result of asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma – will peak in the country in 2045.
Report highlights importance of asbestos ban
The researchers reached their conclusion by comparing asbestos-disease trends in the Netherlands (which banned asbestos in 1991), Japan (2005) and Korea, where asbestos regulations are set to take effect next April.
“It seems that Korea has just started seeing a surge in the number of victims to asbestos exposure. In Japan, the increase started in early 2000 and is expected to peak around 2030. In the Netherlands, industrialization using the cancer-causing material began earlier than the other two countries. The prevalence is forecast to rise to the highest level in 2017,” the researchers said.
Korean asbestos deaths on the rise
According to the report, there were only 61 mesothelioma victims registered at medical centers in 1996, but that number shot up to 152 by 2007. In addition, deaths as a result of asbestos exposure nearly doubled from 2001 to 2006.
However, the Asian nation has taken the necessary steps to curb asbestos’ deadly influence in the long term. The National Institute of Environment Research expects the asbestos regulations will save 20,000 lives over the next five decades. In addition, the ban will save Korea trillions of won, the country’s currency.
“The asbestos regulation is expected to give society benefits worth up to 10.3 trillion won. The nation has to pay the cost (of removing asbestos) before getting benefits, but considering that asbestos damage will peak in 30 years, the regulation from next year has more merits than demerits,” the institute stated in a report, according to the news source.
Asbestos a worldwide problem
Asbestos deaths aren’t confined to Korea however. In the UK it is estimated that one person dies of malignant mesothelioma every five hours, according to the Mirror, a newspaper.
In the United States, the National Cancer Institute estimates that 2,500 new people receive a mesothelioma diagnosis each year, showing the prevalence of the once rare cancer.