Our ticking time bomb: Mesothelioma deaths to rise

QUEENSLAND recorded the second highest rate of new mesothelioma diagnoses nationally from 2015 to 2018, according to a new report.

The study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found new diagnoses of the aggressive cancer, mostly linked to asbestos exposure, dipped slightly nationally in 2018 compared to 2016, which was the worst year on record.

The Mesothelioma in Australia 2018 report shows there were at least 699 deaths and 662 new mesothelioma diagnoses in Australia for the year.

Asbestos was mined for decades in Australia and used in more than 3000 products common in the construction industry as well as in ships, trains and cars.
Asbestos was mined for decades in Australia and used in more than 3000 products common in the construction industry as well as in ships, trains and cars.

AIHW spokesman Justin Harvey said both figures would likely rise as there was often a lag before incidents were reported to the Australian Mesothelioma Registry.

"The average Australian with mesothelioma was male, diagnosed at around 75 years of age, exposed to asbestos in occupational and non-occupational setting and lived for around 11 months after diagnosis," he said.

The report found 586 Queenslanders were diagnosed with mesothelioma from 2015 to 2018 at a rate of 2.6 per every 100,000 people.

Western Australia, the country's main asbestos mining hub, was the only state to record a higher rate of new cases at 4.4 per 100,000 over the three years.

Shine Lawyers dust disease expert Roger Singh says governments and asbestos manufacturers need to do more to warn the public that the dangers of asbestos are still common in Australia. Pictured, the removal of asbestos at University of Queensland St. Lucia campus.
Shine Lawyers dust disease expert Roger Singh says governments and asbestos manufacturers need to do more to warn the public that the dangers of asbestos are still common in Australia. Pictured, the removal of asbestos at University of Queensland St. Lucia campus.

Shine Lawyers dust disease expert Roger Singh said he was not surprised at the continued high number of deaths from mesothelioma.

"While there has been a dip, it's sad to know fatalities will increase largely due to the home renovation boom with many Queensland homes containing asbestos in their building fabric," he said.

"We see it in all parts of Queensland and say more should be done by the state government and those who manufactured and supplied those products, such as James Hardie in particular, to run campaigns which highlight that asbestos dangers are still alive."



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