Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Present Status and Future Directions

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a life-threatening neoplasm of the mesothelium, the layer of tissue that covers many organs in the human body. The incidence of this type of neoplasm is gradually ...
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Epidemiology of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in Africa

Pp. 95-113 (19)

Gill Nelson and Jim teWaterNaude

Abstract

Although asbestos was produced and consumed by many African countries throughout most of the 20th century, the only producers of significant amounts were South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. South Africa mined all three types of commercially viable asbestos, viz. chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite, while the latter two countries mined only chrysotile. South Africa was the global leader in the production of crocidolite asbestos, the fibre most strongly linked with the development of mesothelioma; and it was in this country that the link was first established and reported in 1960. While sporadic case reports of mesothelioma have been published from the continent, they are few and far between, and the only epidemiological studies have been conducted in South Africa, showing that mesothelioma rates in the country are amongst the highest in the world. The disease burden did not dissipate with the closure of the crocidolite and amosite mines in the 1990s. South Africa has a legacy of asbestos contamination in the form of mine tailings dumps and asbestos-containing building materials and other products. As fibre, including South African crocidolite and amosite, was widely exported from the three major asbestos-producing African countries to the rest of Africa, so was the risk of mesothelioma. We can expect many more people to suffer from this debilitating disease in future years.

Keywords:

Asbestos production, asbestos consumption, amosite, chrysotile, crocidolite, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe.

Affiliation:

School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 27 St Andrews Rd, Parktown 2193, South Africa.