The changing picture of mesothelioma in Australia, almost 20,000 new cases by the end of the century

April 21, 2016 at 2:31 PM

The report, commissioned by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA), estimates that 58 per cent of future mesothelioma diagnoses will be attributed to industrial exposures, with the remaining 42 per cent coming from third wave exposures.

(The third wave of asbestos relates to exposure from sources other than mining and manufacturing of asbestos, including through home renovation and environmental exposure.)

And by 2050, third-wave cases will have overtaken first and second waves of occupational exposure. 

ASEA CEO Peter Tighe said the report looks to predict where future cases of mesothelioma would come from.

“We need to better understand current risks and exposure pathways to reduce the incidence of mesothelioma,” Peter Tighe said.

“The rising incidence of third wave exposure means it’s critically important that we all put in place measures now to reduce the risks of asbestos exposure. This should include proper identification, removal and disposal of asbestos homes and buildings across the country before it leads to asbestos exposure.

“Mesothelioma is an unfair and devastating disease, not just for those who have been diagnosed, but also their family, friends and the community. Symptoms do not show up for a very long time after exposure.”

The report was undertaken by the actuarial firm, Finity Consulting. Report author and Principal at Finity, Brett Riley said:

“The proportion of cases not related to occupational exposure was increasing over time. These mesotheliomas are generally associated with relatively low doses of asbestos exposure and include some individuals who will be unaware that they have even been exposed to asbestos.” 

“Third wave mesotheliomas represent around one in every three mesotheliomas diagnosed at present.”   

David McNab, the report’s co-author and also a Finity Principal, said, “It is important to raise awareness of ongoing asbestos exposures and follow risk minimisation strategies to deal with these exposures.  By doing so, it is possible that there could be significantly fewer deaths from mesothelioma in Australia in the 21st century.”