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Asbestos Hazards

Short residence time of chrysotile asbestos in lung tissue and implications for diagnosis and compensation

The silicate mineral asbestos is categorized into two main groups based on fiber structure: serpentine asbestos (chrysotile) and amphibole asbestos (crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite). All forms of asbestos are capable of inducing mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other diseases.
However, unlike other forms of asbestos, chrysotile asbestos, the predominant form of asbestos in world markets today and in the past is well documented to have only a short residence time in lung tissue.
The World Health Organization (WHO) runs a campaign to stop the use of all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos. Also the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified chrysotile as a group 1 carcinogen.
The following article deals with chrysotile asbestos and a recent publication that suggests fibre detection in lung tissue for the diagnosis of asbestos disease, which would be problematic for the compensation of affected workers in practice:

Canada: Costs of asbestos disease higher than estimates

20 September 2017

Cost to Canada of asbestos disease at $2.35 billion (Article

The annual cost of newly diagnosed mesothelioma and lung cancer due to work-related asbestos exposure is significantly higher than first thought, according to a study by the Canadian Institute for Work & Health (IWH).

According to figures provided by IWH, based on the 427 cases in 2011, the economic burden of work-related mesothelioma, broken down, includes:

  • $23.2 million in total health care costs
  • $117.8 million in productivity and output costs
  • $36.8 million in all for insurance administration costs
  • $482.3 million due to mesothelioma as an occupational disease.

Original study:

The export of hazardous industries

by Barry Castleman Environmental Health (2016) 15:8


“As the result of social movements around the world, asbestos is banned in over 50 countries. Yet most of the world’s people live in countries where asbestos is still used, often with few if any protective measures. No other industry has a comparable record of documented bad practices in occupational and environmental health. In the US, decades of litigation over asbestos injury compensation have pried loose a vast number of internal documents from the asbestos companies. These corporate documents reveal a veritable encyclopedia of menacing business practices.

This record includes :

  • the suppression of medical and experimental findings
  • manipulation of published reports
  • suppression of reference to asbestos hazards in the trade press
  • publication of statements and reports by trade associations that asbestos products are not toxic
  • withholding of information on asbestos disease from governmental authorities
  • prolonged violation after regulations required health warning labels on asbestos products
  • marketing of products without warning labels in some countries after starting to affix warnings on the same products in other countries
  • targeting of doctors raising public awareness about asbestos hazards
  • settlement of damage suits on condition that the lawyer representing the workers file no more such cases
  • non-disclosure to employees of asbestosis revealed in their medical examinations
  • firing workers and busting unions for protesting asbestos hazards
  • firing and replacing workers before they had time to develop asbestos diseases from their exposures
  • exporting banned asbestos products
  • labeling asbestos-containing products “asbestos-free”
  • removing the word “asbestos” in advertising asbestos products bearing no warnings
  • selling asbestos for use in children’s modeling compounds
  • sub-contracting of hazardous asbestos maintenance work
  • wanton disposal of wastes around asbestos factories
  • prolonged failure to take basic sanitary precautions to keep workers from taking asbestos dust home to their families on their clothes

Individual countries must overcome the influence of the asbestos-exporting countries and asbestos companies and stop building with asbestos, as recommended by WHO, ILO, and World Bank”.