Asbestos and Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
Pp. 115-128 (14)
Matthew J. Soeberg and Nico van Zandwijk
There is strong scientific evidence demonstrating that exposure to airborne
asbestos fibres is considered to be the single major cause of malignant pleural
mesothelioma (MPM). There are different aetiological explanations for MPM that remain
controversial or unresolved including the role of biological gender differences, genetic risk,
as well as the association between maternal asbestos exposure and subsequent
mesothelioma in children. Nevertheless, MPM is an important epidemiological marker of
asbestos exposure through which it is possible to track a country’s current and prior
asbestos consumption and current or future patterns of asbestos-related disease.
Quantifying the association between population-level asbestos consumption and MPM
disease trends is an important yet challenging task as the morbid effects of asbestos use
remain hidden for several decades. This is due to the long latency period between first
asbestos exposure and a diagnosis of MPM, with this latency period ranging between 20
and 50 years. There have been significant shifts in global asbestos consumption with the
most striking change occurring in the geographical regions in which asbestos is being used.
The Asian region has become by far the largest asbestos consumer today. The deleterious
human health, social, economic and environmental impacts of asbestos-related disease are
preventable. Implementing a universal ban on asbestos and organising comprehensive
occupational health and safety programmes are top priorities.
Asbestos, asbestos-related diseases, asbestos fibres, asbestos
consumption, incidence, mortality.
Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, Bernie Banton Centre, Gate 3, Hospital Road, Sydney, Australia; Email: matthew.