The Centers for Disease Control reports that deaths from mesothelioma are rising in the United States.
This week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report covered mesothelioma fatalities over the past several years.
The CDC counted 18000 mesothelioma deaths in the US over the seven-year period from 1999 to 2005, with 2704 deaths in 2005. The number of malignant mesothelioma fatalities is rising year to year in rough proportion to the population: the annual death rate has been steady at about 14 per million.
The agency expects the number of mesothelioma deaths to peak next year, and to begin to decline, as the improvements in safety and reduction in asbestos use instituted decades ago payoff. The latency period of mesothelioma can be decades long, so even though asbestos is used less widely today, people continue to get mesothelioma due to their exposure in the past.
The writers of the report admit a limitation in their analysis is the lack of asbestos exposure history on death certificates and a general dearth of information on work history.
Consistent with their public health mission, the CDC states “maintenance, renovation, or demolition activities that might disturb asbestos should be performed with precautions.” The Mesothelioma Web has been relaying this advice for years.
Previous analysis by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found high rates of mesothelioma among people who worked in ship building, chemicals, refining, and construction.
The full text of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is on-line at: cdc.gov