A Fact Sheet detailing known health risks posed by exposure to Chrysotile Asbestos has been prepared. This resource has been developed by Dr. Richard Lemen and other international experts.
The following facts represent knowledge concerning chrysotile asbestos, the only form of asbestos currently marketed.
Fact 1: For the past two decades, chrysotile has been the only commercially mined form of asbestos being mass marketed. It has constituted over 95% of all asbestos marketed over the past century. The latest data show global use of chrysotile is around 2 million metric tons per year (USGS, 2013).
Fact 2: Chrysotile is frequently found contaminated with amphibole forms of asbestos, most commonly tremolite (IARC, 2012). However, the UICC Canadian chrysotile, which has been shown capable of causing disease, has not been found to contain tremolite (Frank et al., 1998).
Fact 3: Chrysotile has been shown to cause asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and cancers of the larynx and ovary (IPCS, 1998; WTO, 2001; IARC, 2012; WHO, 2014; Collegium Ramazzini, 2015).
Fact 4: Latest data show the global burden of asbestos-related cancers estimated to be 194,000 deaths per year in 2013, up from 94,000 in 1990 (an increase of over 100%) with a disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) burden of 3,402,000 – up 94% from 1990 and accounting for nearly two-thirds of the burden from all occupational carcinogens (GBD, 2015).
Fact 5: Currently, at least 55 countries have banned the use of all forms of asbestos (IBAS, 2015).
Fact 6: No threshold level of asbestos exposure has been established below which all individuals would be risk free of contracting asbestos-related diseases – including those exposed to chrysotile (Royal Commission, 1984; IARC, 1977, 2012; IPCS, 1998; IPCS 2004-2012; Collegium Ramazzini, 2015).
Fact 7: In 2001 the World Trade Organization reported: “The Panel found too that the efficacy of “controlled use” is particularly doubtful for the building industry and for DIY [do-it-yourself] enthusiasts, which are the most important users of cement-based products containing chrysotile asbestos.” The WTO stated “… we note that the carcinogenicity of chrysotile fibres has been acknowledged for some time by international bodies. This carcinogenicity was confirmed by the experts consulted by the Panel, with respect to both lung cancers and mesotheliomas, even though the experts acknowledged that chrysotile is less likely to cause mesotheliomas than amphiboles. We also note that the experts confirmed that the types of cancer concerned had a mortality rate of close to 100 percent. We therefore consider that we have sufficient evidence that there is in fact a serious carcinogenic risk associated with the inhalation of chrysotile fibres” (WTO, 2001).
Fact 8: Safer substitutes do exist for replacing chrysotile, thus eliminating the need for use of any type of asbestos in commerce (IPCS, 1998; Harrison et al., 1999; CSTEE, 2002; WBG, 2009; WHO, 2011; Collegium Ramazzini, 2015).
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