More than 3,000 asbestos workers in Australia have died from the cancer-causing chemicals they used to breathe, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report.
Asbestos was the main cause of deaths in the first three months of this year, and the report showed asbestos exposure was the leading cause of death among workers in both genders and the oldest age groups.
It also noted that the highest number of workers died from asbestos-related causes, including cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
The report also noted there was a lack of effective public health measures in place to prevent asbestos-associated cancers and the increased incidence of other health problems.
The ASHW report said that the total number of asbestos deaths in Australia is currently at about 2,000, with a further 1,200 workers believed to have died.
As the number of deaths is rising, there has been increased awareness of the hazards, including that of the “new and emerging forms of cancer,” the ASHM report said.
ASHWC is calling for an urgent, coordinated national plan for asbestos control in Australia.
It said the health impact of asbestos exposure is expected to be around $1.4 trillion over the next 40 years.
“The increasing number of cases of lung cancer in Australia highlights the need to address the potential for asbestos to be a major contributor to the increased number of lung cancers in Australia,” the report said, noting that “cancer incidence is rising rapidly, and lung cancer has increased significantly in Australia in recent decades”.
Asbestos can cause “significant” lung cancer, the report noted.