Asbestos, a lethal contamination that lasts

I was surprised to find out in an article that I read the other day, that asbestos will continue producing deaths in Spain at least until 2040, according to a scientific study.


Asbestos or "Amianto" as it is widely known in Spain is a dangerous environmental pollutant that will continue to produce deaths until at least 2040, though already prohibited in Spain. This scientific study declares that the deceased toll will increase over the coming decades. This article points out that the deaths in Spain by asbestos will continue at least until 2040, examines the evolution of the deaths by asbestos and provides information on the prohibition of this dangerous pollutant.


Forbidden since 2002.

Although it will continue causing deaths in Spain at least until 2040, its use was forbidden since 2002. Incidentally the article I am referring to comes from a scientific article published in the journal BMC Cancer.

One of every two cancers attributable to labour activities in Europe is due to exposure to asbestos.

Known as "Amianto" or popularly called "Uralita" locally from the name of the manufacturer Uralita, is a carcinogen which still present in thousands of buildings, pipes and roofs around Spain. Being a fire-retardant and its low price became a suitable material for a wide variety of manufactured goods, especially used in building materials and insulation products. According to the study, between 1906 and 2002 more than two million tonnes of asbestos were imported in Spain, although its greatest use occurred between the decades of the years sixties and nineties.

The researchers, a team of the "Instituto de Salud Carlos III", the consortium of biomedical research in epidemiology and public health belonging to the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, informs that hundreds of people die each year in Spain as a result of exposure to asbestos at work during the past. Pleural mesotheliomas and lung carcinomas are the major diseases that, produced by this toxic material, and will continue causing more deaths in Spain.

From 491 deaths to 1.249

The authors of the study underline those pleural cancer deaths, 73% of which are mesothelioma caused by asbestos, continued to increase in the analyzed period (1975-2010). In particular, it went from 491 deaths between the years 1976 and 1980 to 1.249 who died in the period from 2006 to 2010. Scientists predict that you between 2016 and 2020 1,319 people will die by this type of cancer, 264 deceased per year. Also, the study points out that between 1975 and 2010 died in Spain 6.037 people of pleural cancer, of which 66 were men and 34 women.

Despite these data, there is little discussion or information in all media about the occupational cancer by asbestos in Spain: less than 1 mesotheliomas and carcinomas of the lung caused by asbestos are defined as occupational disease. These diseases have a long latency: since the contaminant is inhaled and appear as cancer it may take 30 years so it is a long battle in court to proof the initial commencement of the malignant disease.

Ban on asbestos.

Asbestos is refers to a group of six different fibrous materials that are found in nature. The incidence of natural exposure to this material and the manifestation of later diseases are considered to be negligible unless you work in mines extracting the material. The greatest risks of pollution are produced in cities and industrial areas. Asbestos fibres are safe when they remain in the solid state, but if they are released to the environment by improper handling and passing to the water or the air, then become a harmful pollutant. Their negative consequences occur when inhaled.

The first case was described in London in 1906.

The first case of pulmonary fibrosis by asbestos was described in London in 1906 and happened to a 33 years old lady worker of a textile factory. Early scientific works relating to exposure to asbestos and lung cancer are known since 1935.

In 1991 the World Bank stipulated their preference not to finance the manufacturing or use of products with this material. At the beginning of the 2000s began to be prohibited in developed countries. Its use is prohibited under the Rotterdam Convention, signed by more than 100 countries. However, some developing countries continue using it.

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