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New research finds asbestos deaths are underreported

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) recently announced new findings regarding asbestos-related deaths. According to ADAO, the number of asbestos-related deaths has more than doubled from the previous estimate, totaling more than 39,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. The asbestos problem is not going away. It is instead getting worse in the United States.

The ADAO research shows deaths from asbestos have been severely underreported in the U.S. Government agencies report about half the number of deaths, as the ADAO found. With these startling findings, the organization is pushing for a complete ban on asbestos.

Wasn’t asbestos banned?

Most people think asbestos is banned in the U.S. In 1989, the EPA passed a ban on asbestos, but the ban was overturned by a federal court because of an existing product with a historical use of asbestos. The court stated the EPA could ban new use of the material. The regulation now states new products cannot contain more than 1 percent of asbestos.

That means in the United States, there are previously manufactured products with asbestos, and some new products made with the material. Some new items that may contain asbestos include vehicle parts, insulation and construction materials.

Who might encounter asbestos on the job?

That puts some occupations at a much higher risk of coming into contact and getting sick from asbestos. High risk occupations include construction workers, shipyard workers, firefighters, power plant employees, veterans and even teachers.

What are the symptoms of asbestos disease?

Asbestos-related disease is hard to diagnose. It is often confused with other conditions. A doctor is the only person who can diagnose asbestos-related disease. However, if you experience any of the symptoms below, you should contact a doctor.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the lower back, shoulder or chest that won’t go away
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Prolonged fatigue or loss of energy
  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • Prolonged swelling in face or arms
  • A lump or mass on the chest wall
  • Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fluid in the abdomen or chest
  • Weakness in muscles

Being exposed to asbestos has been linked to diseases like lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. It can also cause permanent damage to internal organs. However, these diseases might not occur for 10-50 years. If you suspect you were exposed to asbestos on the job, you should watch for these symptoms and contact a doctor immediately if these issues appear.

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