World Health Organization officials warn deaths from asbestos-related lung diseases could rise sharply in Asia in the next 20 years. Dr. Ken Takahashi, acting director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Occupational Health, and his team assembled data on asbestos use in 47 Asian countries using data from the WHO Mortality Database and published studies.
The study, published in Respirology, the proportion of global asbestos use attributed to Asia has been steadily increasing over the years from 14 percent during 1920 to 1970 to 33 percent during 1971 to 2000 to 64 percent during 2001 to 2007. This increase has been reflected in the absolute level of per-capita use across a wide range of countries, the study says.
"Despite concerns of the global asbestos-related disease epidemic and Asia's growing importance in the world, data on current asbestos use and asbestos-related diseases in Asia remain limited," Takahashi says in a statement.
WHO says asbestos -- a cheap mineral fiber commonly used for insulation in construction -- is one of the most dangerous occupational carcinogens, and an estimated 107,000 people worldwide die of asbestos-related disease.

Source: United Press International