According to a report recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of annual mesothelioma deaths between 1999 and 2015 increased 4.8 percent, from 2,479 to 2,579. The total number of mesotheliona deaths during that period was 45,221.
As some commentators have pointed out, these figures do not account for the tens of thousands of deaths due to asbestos-related lung cancer. Asbestos exposure can cause asbestos particles to be lodged not only in the fluid-filled lining of the lungs, resulting in mesothelioma, but also in the lung tissue itself, where it can cause lung cancer. In reality, there are a variety of adverse health effects asbestos can have on those who are exposed.
Most of the deaths tallied in the report involved individuals 85 years of age and above, though a significant number of younger Americans died as well. A total of 682 people between the ages of 25 and 44 died during the 1999-2015 period.
It makes sense that the largest number of mesotheolioma fatalities would be among older Americans, since there is a latency period for mesothelioma that runs anywhere from 10 to 50 years after exposure. The fact that a significant number of younger Americans were counted among the fatalities, though, suggests that there are still problems with continued exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos has been subjected to regulation by OSHA and the EPA, of course, and its use has significantly decreased. Much of the exposure that occurs happens on the job, in high-risk occupations such as construction and chemical manufacturing. While older mesothelioma victims are more likely to have such exposure, younger victims can be partially accounted for by environmental and secondary exposure, living with or being around an individual who has had direct exposure.
The report is certainly a sobering reminder of the continuing public health risk of asbestos, and the number of people who are affected by asbestos in the most serious way. Those who have been exposed to asbestos—or the families members of those who have been exposed—whether directly on the job or through environmental or secondary exposure, should work with an experienced attorney to determine their options for seeking just compensation. Our firm is committed to fighting for our clients’ rights and ensuring they have the best possible representation in seeking compensation from those responsible for exposing them to asbestos.