Mesothelioma Deaths in Ireland Will Double by 2020Asbestos Exposure & Bans
Written by Tim Povtak
Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource
The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.
Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.
More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.
About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com
- Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
- Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
- A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
- 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family.LashawnMesothelioma patient’s daughter
How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article
Povtak, T. (2023, September 28). Mesothelioma Deaths in Ireland Will Double by 2020. Asbestos.com. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from https://www.asbestos.com/news/2017/02/06/ireland-mesothelioma-deaths-double-by-2020/
Povtak, Tim. "Mesothelioma Deaths in Ireland Will Double by 2020." Asbestos.com, 28 Sep 2023, https://www.asbestos.com/news/2017/02/06/ireland-mesothelioma-deaths-double-by-2020/.
Povtak, Tim. "Mesothelioma Deaths in Ireland Will Double by 2020." Asbestos.com. Last modified September 28, 2023. https://www.asbestos.com/news/2017/02/06/ireland-mesothelioma-deaths-double-by-2020/.
The continued rise is a growing concern as a younger workforce emerges without the experience to properly identify the toxic mineral.
“There is this misperception here that asbestos has gone away,” Darren Arkins, senior inspector at the Health and Safety Authority (HAS) in Ireland, told Asbestos.com. “But we have the same difficulties as everyone else. It’s still a problem. We must remain vigilant.”
Irish lawmakers hinted at banning asbestos with legislation introduced in 1994 and 1998. A general prohibition was issued in 2000 under European Union regulations.
Mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer, is caused primarily by exposure to microscopic asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled or ingested unknowingly. Occupational exposure is responsible for the vast majority of cases.
Asbestos was used prominently in Ireland from 1960 to the mid-1980s, before its toxicity became well known. It was coveted in the construction industry for its ability to resist heat and strengthen many materials.
Latency Period Linked to Rise in Deaths
According to Ireland’s National Cancer Registry, 24 deaths were attributed to mesothelioma each year from 1994-2010. The majority of cases were male and pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the thin membrane surrounding the lungs.
The male death toll from mesothelioma reached a high of 36 in 2009, but the cancer registry estimates that number will reach 68 by 2020, before it starts to decline in the following years.
The rise and decline is predicted primarily because of mesothelioma’s lengthy latency period (20-50 years) and the peak of asbestos use in Ireland.
“We’re coming to the far limits of the latency period for high exposure in the industry,” Arkins said. “There is a strong belief that we’re hitting a peak now. I’d expect the numbers to drop after 2020, but we might not hit zero for a very long time.”
The significant rise is especially concerning because the overall cancer death rate in Ireland already has plateaued and begun to decline, according the registry.
In the U.S., approximately 2,500 people die each year from mesothelioma.
Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer Is Also a Problem
Arkins believes for every mesothelioma death attributed to asbestos exposure, there are two or three lung cancer deaths caused by asbestos exposure.
Despite increased awareness efforts by HAS, Arkins worries asbestos exposure will continue for two major reasons: The recovering economy has led to an increase in renovations and refurbishments across the country, and the workforce is changing.
Many younger workers never dealt with asbestos in new construction — like older workers did years ago — and often don’t recognize asbestos products when they encounter them during a refurbishment.
“That level of experience [recognizing asbestos] is disappearing in the workforce,” he said. “A lot of these guys now would never have seen or come across asbestos before.”
Ireland requires everyone in the building industry to take Safe Pass training annually, where asbestos and general construction dust is discussed extensively. The class has helped younger workers become more aware of the dangers of asbestos.
Residential Renovations Tough to Follow
By law, when a certain level of asbestos is found in a structure about to be renovated or demolished, the HSA must be notified. These notifications have doubled since 2010.
Arkins said a majority of the notifications came from the private sector, and he expects the number will continue to rise. There also is the issue of residential work on older homes, where regulations are not as easily enforced.
“Residential can be a big problem,” he said. “You want some refurbishment, and you get Billy the Builder down the road to do it, and he does it however he wants. Contractors should know the regulations, but they have to inform the homeowner.”
Ireland also has no disposal facility for asbestos waste. Materials must be shipped abroad, most often to Germany. That raises the cost of business, which can lead to risky shortcuts.
“Communication is key. We’re always trying to get the word out,” Arkins said. “And people are generally more health conscious than years ago. Before, it was such a macho culture with guys smoking 20 cigarettes a day, saying dust wouldn’t bother me. Today, there’s a big push to have a healthier workplace, and that helps everyone.”