Projections have been made of the number of mesotheliomas, lung cancers, and cases of asbestosis that might occur over the period 1987 to 2020 in former workers at the Wittenoom crocidolite asbestos mine in Western Australia. Predictions were based on the observed mortality to the end of 1986 and modelling of the mesothelioma rate. Elimination of crocidolite from the lungs was included in the model. Between the years 1987 and 2020 it is predicted that between 250 and 680 deaths will occur due to mesothelioma. This wide range is due to uncertainty on the functional form of the relation between mesothelioma rate and time, and insufficient data to estimate the elimination rate of crocidolite from the lungs. The most likely range is the lower half of this total range--that is, between 250 and 500. It is predicted that between 340 and 465 deaths will occur due to lung cancer. About 45% of these deaths would be attributable to exposure to asbestos. It is estimated that currently there are up to 200 cases of undiagnosed asbestosis. Of these about 50 will die of lung cancer or mesothelioma and are therefore also included in the figures above. Up to 60 former workers may develop the first signs of asbestosis in the future but any such cases are likely to progress to more serious disease at a much slower rate than the cases that have already been identified.
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