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Asbestos health issues ca 1959 and 2017:
Forming part of the history of the mining, production & use of asbestos world-wide, this article quotes from a popular text giving an indication of how asbestos-related health issues were viewed in the 1950's.
The author recognizes asbestosis as a special type of silicosis. He expresses the viewpoint (for the 1950's era) of the level of risk from asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma was not on the horizon in the original author's (Rosato 1959) view.
This articles series about the manufacture & use of asbestos-containing products includes detailed information on the production methods, asbestos content, and the identity and use of asbestos-containing materials.
Asbestos Health & Safety Status - current CDC Mesothelioma Death Rates in the U.S.
Currently (2017) one of the most-reliable sources for statistics on United States mortality rates from malignant mesothelioma is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control or the CDC. Here are excerpts from a weekly report from the US CDC, for which we provide the full document below in PDF format.
To characterize mortality attributed to mesothelioma, CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) analyzed annual multiple-cause-of-death records for 1999--2005, the most recent years for which complete data are available.*
For those years, a total of 18,068 deaths of persons with malignant mesothelioma were reported, increasing from 2,482 deaths in 1999 to 2,704 in 2005, but the annual death rate was stable (14.1 per million in 1999 and 14.0 in 2005).
Maintenance, renovation, or demolition activities that might disturb asbestos should be performed with precautions that sufficiently prevent exposures for workers and the public. In addition, physicians should document the occupational history of all suspected and confirmed mesothelioma cases.
Asbestos was used in a wide variety of construction and manufacturing applications through most of the 20th century. In the United States, asbestos use peaked at 803,000 metric tons in 1973 and then declined to approximately 1,700 metric tons in 2007 (Figure 1) (3).
From 1999 to 2005, the total number of malignant mesothelioma deaths increased 8.9%, from 2,482 in 1999 to 2,704 in 2005, but the annual death rate was stable (14.1 per million population in 1999 versus 14.0 in 2005).
The death rate for males was 4.5 times that for females (23.2 versus 5.1 per million).
During 1999--2005, the state death rate was greater than the national rate (13.8 per million population per year) in 26 states; in six states the rate exceeded 20 per million per year (Figure 2): Maine (173 deaths; rate: 27.5), Wyoming (50; 22.2), West Virginia (182; 21.0), Pennsylvania (1,210; 20.8), New Jersey (814; 20.2), and Washington (558; 20.1).
Reported by: KM Bang, PhD, JM Mazurek, MD, E Storey, MD, MD Attfield, PhD, PL Schleiff, MS, JM Wood, MS, Div of Respiratory Disease Studies, JT Wassell, PhD, Div of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CDC.
- U.S. CDC (2009) cited below.
Convert Mesothelioma Death Rate to Acutal Number of Mesothelioma-related Deaths Per Year
For simplicity and not exactly correctly, using the current (2017) U.S. Population and the latest mesothelioma cancer death rates that would include mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure (principally but possibly mesothelioma from other causes as well), we can calculate the number of U.S. deaths per year from asbestos-caused mesothelioma at a maximum possible number of
Death Rate DR = Population in Millions x Death Rate per Million People
DR = 323 x 14.1
Current DR (mesothelioma U.S.) = 4,522 deaths per year
EPA ASBESTOS IN YOUR HOME U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Greenberg M., Davies L, T. A. MESOTHELIOMA REGISTER 1967-68 [PDF] British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 31, 91-104, 1974.
A register of mesothelioma cases is maintained by the Department of Employment, Medical Services Division (now Employment Medical Advisory Service). This paper describes an investigation of 413 notifications to the Register in 1967-68 from England and Wales and Scotland.
Cases were regarded as `definite' when histological confirmation of diagnosis had been obtained, either by hospital pathologists, or by the UICC Panel of Pathologists, to whom pathological material was submitted whenever possible. Two hundred and forty-six cases were accepted as `definite' and 76 cases were regarded as `definitely not' mesothelioma. The remainder were classified as `undecided' or `insufficient pathological material'. Thirty-five of the 76 cases definitely not mesothelioma had nevertheless been so described on death certificates.
The investigation carried out covers clinical aspects, survival, and evidence of exposure to asbestos. Twelve per cent of definite mesotheliomata were of peritoneal origin. The age range was 21 to 87 years, but, in general, mesothelioma occured at an earlier age than `carcinoma of bronchus and lung' or `all malignant tumours' in the Registrar General's statistical mortality tables.
Concomitant asbestosis and the finding of asbestos bodies or pleural plaques occured as frequently in those cases classified as definitely not mesothelioma as in confirmed cases.
Occupational exposure to asbestos was found in 68% of definite cases, apparently significantly more frequently than in those definitely not mesothelioma, but there was observer bias. The interval between the first exposure and death from mesothelioma exceeded 25 years in 85% of cases but was only three and a half years in one case.
The duration of exposure varied widely: in 12% of cases it was under five years. The type of asbestos could be ascertained in so few cases that it was impossible to asses the rôle of crocidolite in aetiology. There were 38 definite cases in which no history of any exposure to asbestos could be obtained.
Definite mesotheliomata showed marked clustering in areas where there is substantial industrial use of asbestos. Whether this should be interpreted as evidence of causation or an effect of heightened awareness in these areas cannot be deduced from this study. Evidence is quoted suggesting that the observed annual incidence of approximately 120 definite mesotheliomata in England, Scotland, and Wales may considerably understate the true prevalence.
Hodgson JT, Darton A. "The quantitative risks of mesothelioma and lung cancer in relation to asbestos exposure." Epidemiology and Medical Statistics Unit, Health and Safety Executive, Magdalen House, Stanley Precinct, L20 3QZ, Bootle, UK, 2000. Retrieved 2017/8/30, original source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1009563/
Kelly TD, Matos GR. Historical statistics for mineral and material commodities in the United States. US Geological Survey data series 140. Reston, VA: US Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey; 2005. Available at http://minerals.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140.
Lanphear BP, Buncher CR. Latent period for malignant mesothelioma of occupational origin. J Occup Med 1992;34:718--21.
OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Safety and health topics: Asbestos; 2009. retrieved 2017/08/30, original source: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos.
What are the hazards of asbestos?
Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard and its use is now highly regulated by both OSHA and EPA. Asbestos fibers associated with these health risks are too small to be seen with the naked eye.
Breathing asbestos fibers can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs called asbestosis and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death.
Asbestos also causes cancer of the lung and other diseases such as mesothelioma of the pleura which is a fatal malignant tumor of the membrane lining the cavity of the lung or stomach.
Epidemiologic evidence has increasingly shown that all asbestos fiber types, including the most commonly used form of asbestos, chrysotile, causes mesothelioma in humans.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
MESOTHELIOMA doctors, organizations, treatment resources, legal advice, at InspectApedia.com
Rosato, A.V., ASBESTOS, ITS INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS, ROSATO 1959, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print, text and images available at InspectAPedia.com). Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on this text.
The following text, quoted from Rosato (1959)  gives a view of how the material and industry were viewed at that time.
A review of the entire ASBESTOS ORIGIN & NATURE article series that reprints Rosato's original 1959 text includes many industry photographs showing workers handling raw asbestos ore or products, often with only eye protection.
Our page top image and the photo at left both illustrate unprotected handling of raw asbestos ore fibers.
[Click to enlarge any image]
With the development of the asbestos industry, contamination
of the air by small asbestos fiber particles produced
Hygienic measures were not well advanced
when the first mining operations were developed. Inasmuch
as the dry processing method is used in mining and milling
asbestos, small fiber particles are picked up by air currents
and distributed throughout the manufacturing plants and in
The asbestos particles or dust winch developed
could become harmful to the people who were constantly
exposed to it.
Asbestosis is a special type of silicosis; however, it does
not occur as often as silicosis. Approximately 10 years is required
for a person to develop asbestosis if he is constantly
exposed to the dust. However, since protective measures are
provided by the manufacturing plants, it is extremely rare
that a person develops asbestosis.
Chemical analysis can be made of dust in order to determine
concentration of asbestos dust particles. Information
is available on the maximum concentration that can exist
without creating a health problem. Such varied safety
measures are available as well ventilated areas, special
masks, and water sprinkler systems. Proper filtration devices
for collecting dust particles are available.
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 Asbestos, its Industrial Applications, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton MA, Reinhold Publishing Co., NY, 1959, Library of Congress Catalog No. 59-12535. We are in process of re-publishing this interesting text. Excerpts & adaptations are found in InspectApedia.com articles on asbestos history, production & visual identification in and on buildings.
 "Asbestos in Plastic Compositions", A.B. Cummins, Modern Plastics [un-dated, pre 1952]
 "Asbestos in Your Home," Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority, Spokane WA 509-477-4727 www.scapa.org provides a one-page image, a .pdf file drawing of a house warning of some possible sources of asbestos in the home. The sources are not ranked according to actual risk of releasing hazardous levels of airborne asbestos fibers and the list is useful but incomplete.
 The US EPA provides a sample list of asbestos containing products epa.gov/earth1r6/6pd/asbestos/asbmatl.htm
 "Characterization of asbestos exposure among
automotive mechanics servicing and handling
asbestos-containing materials", Gary Scott Dotson, University of South Florida, 1 June 2006, web search 3/9/2012 original source: scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3505&context=etd [copy on file as /hazmat/Automotive_Asbestos_Exposuret.pdf ].
 Asbestos Identification and Testing References
Asbestos Identification, Walter C.McCrone, McCrone Research Institute, Chicago, IL.1987 ISBN 0-904962-11-3. Dr. McCrone literally "wrote the book" on asbestos identification procedures which formed
the basis for current work by asbestos identification laboratories.
Stanton, .F., et al., National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 506: 143-151
Pott, F., Staub-Reinhalf Luft 38, 486-490 (1978) cited by McCrone
 ASBESTOS IN YOUR HOME U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
 Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on ASBESTOS, ITS INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS, ROSATO 1959, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print, text and images available at InspectAPedia.com).
 "Handling Asbestos-Containing roofing material - an update", Carl Good, NRCA Associate Executive Director, Professional Roofing, February 1992, p. 38-43
 EPA Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in buildings, NIAST, National Institute on Abatement Sciences & Technology, [republishing EPA public documents] 1985 ed., Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460 Copy on file as ASBESTOS IN YOUR HOME - U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Basic Information about Asbestos, US EPA, web search 08/17/2010, original source: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/help.html
"Handling Asbestos-Containing roofing material - an update", Carl Good, NRCA Associate Executive Director, Professional Roofing, February 1992, p. 38-43
EPA Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in buildings, NIAST, National Institute on Abatement Sciences & Technology, [republishing EPA public documents] 1985 ed., Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Copy on file as ASBESTOS IN YOUR HOME - U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
[copy on file as /hazmat/Vermiculite_US_EPA.pdf/ Current Best Practices for Vermiculite Attic Insulation - May 2003, U.S. EPA
[copy on file as] /hazmat/Vermiculite_Health_Canada.pdf] Vermiculite Insulation Containing Amphibole Asbestos - September 2009, Health Canada
Managing Asbestos in Place, How to Develop and Maintain a Building Asbestos Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Program, U.S. EPA, web search 01/20/2011, original source: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/management_in_place.html
Asbestos Strategies, Lessons Learned about Management and Use of Asbestos: Report of Findings and Recommendations on the Use and Management of Asbestos, 16 May 2003, US EPA, web search 01/20/2011, original source: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/asbstrategiesrptgetf.pdf
prepared by the: Global Environment & Technology Foundation, 7010 Little River Turnpike, Suite. 460, Annandale VA 20003
Other US EPA Publications on asbestos: web search 01/20/2011, see http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/pubs.html
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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