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Asbestos causes almost 3 million years of lost life expectancy

Asbestos exposure can eventually lead to asbestosis and mesothelioma, two diseases that frequently results in the death of the victim. They develop from the inhalation of asbestos fibers, which become trapped in the lungs and cause damage to the lining. The progression is often from asbestosis and then deadly mesothelioma, a cancer that has extremely high rates of mortality.

We often think of deaths in relation to the individual victim. A grandfather who worked in the shipyards of California, or a father who did construction work, and their loss to the family. If they were still working, there is a direct loss for the family, of their income. But whether working or retired, there is the deeper loss of their presence within the family.

Researchers from the World Health Organization, however, decided to assess the loss on a broader scale, and look at the toll taken by mesothelioma and asbestos across the globe. They examined the data, looking at total years of life lost by the victims. In the understated language of science, they described it as "substantial."

They calculated the Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL), which estimates the average number of year someone would have lived if mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease had not caused them to die prematurely.

The study was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, and found that there was almost three million PYLL. According to the study, the average mesothelioma patient lost 17 years of life and for those suffering from asbestosis, it was an average of 13 years.

The studies overarching finding is that this massive loss of life can only be stopped by eliminating the use of asbestos throughout the world.

Source:, "New Study Shows Three Million Life Years Lost from Asbestos According to Surviving Mesothelioma," August 08, 2013