Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, commonly called the CDC, issued a report that analyzes mesothelioma death-rate data from 1999 to 2015. Over this time, the annual U.S. death rate from mesothelioma increased 4.8 percent.
The states with the highest annual age-adjusted mesothelioma death rates were Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine.
We write about mesothelioma regularly. The asbestos-caused cancer invades the linings around internal organs, most often of the lungs. It is fatal and can be a very challenging disease to face, both for the victim and for his or her loved ones. No one should have to spend the end of their life in such a struggle.
According to the report, it can take from 20 to 71 years from asbestos exposure for mesothelioma to manifest. Given that most victims were exposed at work during the 1900s, the CDC says that mesothelioma deaths had been expected to fall after 2005, but the data in the new report sadly show otherwise.
The CDC explains that historically exposure occurred in industrial occupations and in construction, and that now, it happens primarily during “maintenance and remediation” of buildings with asbestos materials.
The report says that our asbestos regulation must get tougher to keep people safe. Asbestos is not banned in the U.S. except for as an additive in a short list of products, so the risk of exposure sadly continues, although how people are exposed has shifted some.
A couple of factors are at play here. First, the EPA under a new law has chosen asbestos as one of the first 10 toxic chemicals the agency will study to understand the risk to the environment and to human health. Depending on the findings, the agency must create a plan for increasing protection and safety from the mineral.
Second, while this regulatory focus on asbestos is positive, the EPA is under fire for the agency’s very existence, as a bill has been introduced in Congress to eliminate the EPA. The Trump administration and many in Congress are also taking steps to reduce, rather than increase, government regulations, as well as putting pressure to steeply reduce federal agency funding.
We do not know how this will play out, but we will keep our clients informed as these important developments evolve as to how asbestos safety will be impacted.