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Are Asbestos and Mesothelioma Problems Unique to the United States?

It is often stated that we live in a global economy, and it is true. That became painfully obvious during the pandemic when supply chains were shattered, resulting in shortages of numerous products. Because most American consumers own property and consume food products produced worldwide, the shortages were widely felt. 

Therefore, one might wonder if health issues faced by United States citizens are equally global. Each country has safety laws and regulations that affect the companies there. Moreover, individual companies have their own policies and procedures. Thus, it stands to reason that attitudes concerning what constitutes safe behavior, and safety in general, vary globally. And that brings us to the topic of this blog post – whether asbestos and mesothelioma problems are unique to the United States.

Why Are We Concerned with Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare, but deadly, form of cancer. Every year, approximately 3,300 Americans are diagnosed with the disease. Roughly 80 percent of those diagnoses involve pleural mesothelioma, in which cancer cells grow in the lung and chest membrane lining. 

Mesothelioma can take a very long time to develop – as much as 50 years. As a result, people sometimes ignore early symptoms that may suggest they have a problem. Some common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma involve the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Persistent cough
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Hoarseness
  • Fever 
  • Fatigue 
  • Low back pain

What Is the Relationship of Asbestos to Mesothelioma?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, 70 percent of pleural mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos exposure. According to the National Institutes of Health, the following agencies have classified asbestos as a “known human carcinogen” (meaning that it causes cancer):

Almost everyone is exposed to small amounts of asbestos throughout their lives. However, the greatest danger exists for those who work or have worked around asbestos for extended periods. 

Asbestos Worldwide

The dangers of asbestos are now well known, leading some countries to ban it altogether. However, asbestos is still mined and used in several countries. 

According to a National Library of Medicine article authored by Arthur Frank, in 2020, approximately 2 million tons of asbestos were still being mined, with more than half coming from Russia. China, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and Colombia also produced the mineral. China and India used more than half of the amount produced. However, many countries still have permitted the use of asbestos. 

According to the World Health Organization, more than 125 million people worldwide are still exposed to asbestos in their workplaces.

Mesothelioma in Other Parts of the World

Mesothelioma occurs globally. According to an article in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the highest incidence rate for mesothelioma exists in Northern Europe. 

Other countries with relatively high incidence rates include Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe, Southern Africa, and Southern Europe. 

Countries with some of the lowest incidence rates include Pakistan, Sudan, Chad, Nepal, Panama, and Bangladesh.

Call with Questions

Countries around the world are facing mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos. Unfortunately, even when the uses of asbestos are banned or limited, people who have already been exposed can develop cancer years later. 

Many Americans who have developed asbestos-related diseases due to asbestos exposure at their workplaces are entitled to receive compensation. You may have questions about your rights if you have developed an illness due to asbestos exposure. The mesothelioma lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are here to answer questions and provide representation if needed. Please call us for a free consultation.