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259,000 Asbestos Deaths - And Counting


Lives Claimed:

  • Deaths from 1965-1999 due to asbestos exposure: 259,000.
    • This number represents approximately 4,000 deaths per year.
    • Starting in 1965: the number of deaths increases by 400-500 a year.
    • By the mid-1900s: approximately 9,700 deaths per year.

Why the steady increase?

  • Asbestos-related diseases are typically diagnosed 15 to 40 years after initial exposure to asbestos. In the 1960s, there was a spike in the number of asbestos- related diseases reported by shipyard workers who had worked in close contact with asbestos during WWII.

What does the future hold?

  • The definitive 1982 epidemiological study projected that between 1999 and 2030 there would be approximately 166,000 additional asbestos-related deaths.*

Annual Projected Deaths From Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer (selected industries**)


Annual Projected Deaths, Asbestos-Related Gastrointestinal/Other Cancers (selected industries)


Annual Projected Deaths From Asbestos-Related Mesothelioma (selected industries)

  • 80 percent of mesothelioma (the most lethal form of asbestos-related disease -- cancer of the chest cavity lining) cases are caused by asbestos exposure, and these cases are usually fatal.

*Source: 1982 epidemiological assessment and projection by Irving Selikoff, M.D. [epidemiologist, former teacher at Mount Sinai Medial Center, New York]; William J. Nicholson, Ph.D., [epidemiologist and professor emeritus at Mount Sinai Medical Center]; and George Perkel, M.A., [research director or Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU)].

**Primary asbestos manufacturing, secondary manufacturing, insulation work, shipbuilding and repair, construction trades, railroad engine repair, utility services, stationary engineers and firemen, chemical plant and refinery maintenance, automobile maintenance, and marine engine room personnel.

**The above was provided by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, 6/99