ITALY: One of the countries most affected by asbestos-related diseases in the world

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More than 20 years after banning all forms of asbestos extraction, use, import and trade, Italy is one of the countries most affected by asbestos-related diseases in the world.

This is stressed by the fifth report of the National Mesothelioma Register (ReNaM). This epidemiological monitoring system established in INAIL presents the data relating to more than 21,000 cases of malignant mesothelioma diagnosed between 1993 and 2012, identified by the network of its Regional Centres (Cor).

Italy is currently going through the period of maximum incidence of mesothelioma cases, as a consequence of the intensive use of asbestos between 1945 and 1992 and the disease’s long latency period. Two out of three sufferers from asbestos-related diseases are men, aged 69.2 years on average when the disease is diagnosed. 93% of cases concern pleura. The sector most affected is the building sector.

The next challenge for ReNaM is to extend the regional centres’ epidemiological monitoring activities to all tumours for which a work-related origin is suspected. This concerns in particular tumours of the lung, larynx and ovary, for which the International Agency for Research on Cancer recently confirmed the correlation with the inhalation of asbestos fibres in suspension in the air. This initiative is essential to make available information that is precious for public health, risk prevention and the effectiveness of the protection system, as has already been done for the epidemiological monitoring of malignant mesothelioma.

Faced with this dramatic situation, INAIL has launched a large-scale programme for prevention of asbestos-related diseases, including:

  • A manual on the classification and management of asbestos-contaminated wastes;
  • A new map of waste disposal centres accepting asbestos-contaminated wastes;
  • Inclusion of the asbestos issue in the 2016-2018 Research Plan;
  • The allocation of €83 million in credits in 2016 for the operations of removal, transport and disposal of asbestos-contaminated materials in a certified waste disposal centre.

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