Asbestos isn’t just the biggest industrial killer of all time, it is also a massive drain on the economy, new research has confirmed.
Canadian researchers estimated the lifetime cost of newly diagnosed lung cancer and mesothelioma cases associated with occupational and para-occupational [typically exposed family members] asbestos exposure for the calendar year 2011, including healthcare, productivity and output, and quality of life costs. In the year there were 427 cases of newly diagnosed mesothelioma cases and 1,904 lung cancer cases attributable to asbestos exposure.
The researchers estimated the economic burden at $C831 million (£515m) in direct and indirect costs for the total 2,331 newly identified cases of mesothelioma and lung cancer and $C1.5 billion (£0.93bn) in quality of life costs. The calculation is based on a value of $C100,000 (£62,000) per quality-adjusted life year. This amounts to $C356,429 (£221,000) and $C652,369 (£404,000) per case, respectively.
The authors conclude the cost is “substantial”, but add: “This burden estimate is large; yet, it is only the tip of the total economic burden, since it includes only 2,331 newly diagnosed occupational and para-occupational cases from one calendar year.” They add that the estimate does not include other occupational diseases that are associated with asbestos exposure, such as pleural plaque and several other cancers, and non-occupational exposure, “so our estimate of the societal economic burden of new cases in Canada is likely a conservative one.”
- Emile Tompa and others. The economic burden of lung cancer and mesothelioma due to occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First 29 July 2017. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2016-104173