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A worldwide ban on asbestos production and use: some recent progress, but more still to be done
  1. Malcolm R Sim
  1. Correspondence to Professor Malcolm Ross Sim, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia; malcolm.sim{at}

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The landmark paper by Wagner et al1 published in this journal in 1960, which linked work with crocidolite asbestos and mesothelioma in South Africa, has been instrumental in the dramatic reduction in asbestos mining and other measures to reduce asbestos exposure, most successfully in developed countries. This contrasts sharply with the lack of progress in newly industrialising countries, in particular large countries such as Brazil, China and India, which continue to produce, import and use large amounts of chrysotile asbestos.

There have been several recent developments in the state of the science relating to asbestos-related cancers which have strengthened the call for more intensive action to cease asbestos mining, the manufacturing of asbestos products and to reduce exposure from existing asbestos-containing materials. In the UK, the spectrum of workers at high risk of developing mesothelioma has been changing, with a decline in those involved in mining and manufacturing and the rise in risk in carpenters, plumbers and other tradespeople, which highlights the flow-on health effects on downstream workers.2 Such findings are likely to increase the timeframe of the peak of the epidemic curve for mesothelioma, currently estimated to be within the next 10 years in Australia, where bans were …

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.