Looking back in the light of present knowledge, it is impossible not to feel that opportunities for discovery and prevention of asbestos disease were badly missed (quote from 1934).[i]
[I]n large part the suffering that’s been caused by asbestos diseases is an untold story (quote from 2019).[ii]
The most severe harms caused by the history of asbestos in Australia are the human lives lost. The scale of fatalities from preventable asbestos-related diseases is catastrophic and a major public health disaster. Yet, our researchers found that discussion on these deaths and related harms is entirely lacking or incomplete in scholarly and official sources. We will leave you, the readers, to consider why this might be so.
Our researchers examined academic sources, the Safe Work Australia website,[iii] asbestos-related websites, and other public health material for evidence on the death counts from asbestos-related diseases.[iv] The only official source that attempts to estimate the historical death counts from asbestos-related diseases in Australia is the Asbestos Management Review Report.[v] Further, the single official source that discusses the ongoing deaths is the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency “ASEA”, with its safety webpage highlighting estimated annual fatalities of 4,000.[vi]
Exposure to asbestos causes or contributes to a range of health conditions, including diagnoses of asbestosis, mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and ovarian cancer.[vii] These are all very serious diseases, with most sufferers dying within relatively short timeframes following diagnosis.
We will continue to highlight these fatalities because:
- Our research suggests most Australians are not properly informed about the risks of legacy asbestos and are potentially at risk of dying.
- Our proposed reforms are driven by a desire to save others from the horrors of a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer.
As outlined below, there is published medical research that estimates the historical deaths from mesothelioma in Australia and there are well accepted models that are used to estimate other asbestos-disease fatalities more broadly, both here and internationally.
For example, the 2016 Global Burden of Disease study estimated total deaths that year from occupational asbestos exposure at 218,827 (including lung cancer 181,450, mesothelioma 27,612, ovarian cancer 6,022, and larynx cancer 3,743).[viii] This study excludes deaths arising from exposure in non-occupational or environmental settings. These exposures occur in situations outside of workplaces, such as exposure of a pupil in a school or a do-it-yourself home renovator. So, the full picture of global fatalities from asbestos-related diseases is still to be revealed.
The global study models and other published sources suggest the estimated death counts in Australia from mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer from 1945 to 2020 is in the range of 60,000-152,000. These death counts are still mounting and may continue for another century or longer.
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused exclusively by inhalation of asbestos fibres.[ix] While this condition is not fatal, it can trigger respiratory or cardiac failure and or can lead to subsequent diagnoses of mesothelioma or lung cancer.[x]
Asbestosis is a notifiable disease in Australia. However, publicly available statistics are lacking and the numbers of deaths from this condition are unknown.[xii] Our analysis of the claims data suggests continuing fatalities from asbestosis are around 150 a year.[xiii]
Mesothelioma (also called malignant mesothelioma) occurs when abnormal cells in the tissue that surrounds the lungs grow in an uncontrolled way. This disease is not the same as lung cancer, which starts inside the lungs.[xiv]
Since 1982, diagnoses of mesothelioma have been notifiable to state based registries in Australia. This data is consolidated nationally by the Australian Mesothelioma Registry “AMR”.[xv] There is a time lag between notifications and publication of the AMR statistics, so the diagnoses for prior years are commonly adjusted upwards over time. Allowing for such adjustments, Cancer Australia estimates more than 830 people were diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2020.[xvi]
If the Cancer Australia estimate proves to be accurate, the diagnoses during 2020 will be 15 percent higher than those reported by the AMR for 2019 and will exceed all prior years. The Cancer Australia estimate includes record statistics for males and females, with female diagnoses up 34 percent from those included in the 2019 AMR report.[xvii]
Unlike other forms of cancer, exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma in Australia.[xviii] Once contracted, this cancer is incurable and has a stark prognosis, with an average life expectancy following diagnosis of 11 months.[xix] At present, there are no drugs to prevent the development of mesothelioma tumours following exposure or to treat the cancer effectively once a diagnosis is confirmed.[xx]
The average five-year survival rate for mesothelioma in Australia is 6 percent. This is the lowest such rate among the cancer types recorded by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare,[xxi] with minimal improvement in this statistic over the last thirty years.[xxii] Given these medical outcomes, prevention measures and increased research funding to find a cure or life-extending treatments should be the highest priorities for the industry, policy makers and cancer bodies.[xxiii]
Longer term estimates of the cumulative diagnoses / deaths from mesothelioma are provided by Leigh et al, Leigh and Driscoll, Soeberg et al, the Asbestos Management Review Report, the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, and the ASEA. Statistics on the diagnoses and deaths of mesothelioma sufferers are closely linked, because as previously highlighted, the average life expectancy of this cancer is less than a year.[xxiv]
In 2003, Leigh and Driscoll estimated 7,027 mesothelioma cases from 1945 to 2001 and suggested notifications of mesothelioma diagnoses prior to 1982 were artificially low.[xxvi] They predicted 18,000 mesothelioma cases in Australia from 1945 to 2020.[xxvii]
The Asbestos Management Review Report cited a study estimating 8,191 mesothelioma cases in Australia from 1945 to 30 June 2004.[xxviii] When updated using the AMR data,[xxix] the number of diagnoses / deaths to the end of 2020 is close to 20,000.
The ASEA National Asbestos Profile states that the ‘total number of persons diagnosed with mesothelioma in Australia between 1945 and 2015 is approximately 16,800.’[xxx] When updated to 2020, this figure reaches approximately 20,000.
Soeberg, Vallance, Keena, Takahashi and Leigh highlight 16,679 cases of mesothelioma from 1982 to 2016.[xxxi] When estimates prior to 1982 and post 2016 diagnoses are added, the cumulative number is around 20,000.
The Asbestos Diseases Research Institute annual report for 2019 indicates that mesothelioma diagnoses in Australia from 1982 to 2018 were approximately 18,200.[xxxii] When estimates for cases prior to 1982 and diagnoses during 2019 and 2020 are added, the total exceeds 20,000.
To summarise, estimates from medical researchers and government bodies converge around 20,000 mesothelioma fatalities / diagnoses in Australia from 1945 until the end of 2020. Confirming a diagnosis of mesothelioma is often very challenging, so these estimates may be understated where sufferers of mesothelioma were not diagnosed before or after death or were not reported to the AMR.[xxxiii]
Lung cancer develops when cells grow out of control in a person’s lungs on one side or on both.[xxxiv] Lung cancer can be curable in the early stages but is often not diagnosed until the disease is advanced.[xxxv]
While smoking is the single greatest risk factor for lung cancer, some people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked, and asbestos is an exacerbating and interacting risk factor.[xxxvi] In 1964, a study by Selikoff, Hammond and Churg showed that asbestos workers who smoked had 90 times the risk of developing asbestos related cancer than non-smokers with no exposure to asbestos.[xxxvii]
A lung cancer diagnosis is very serious, with a relatively low average five-year survival rate of 19 percent.[xxxviii]
The actual number of deaths in Australia from asbestos related lung cancer is unknown because the causes of lung cancer are not generally investigated or included on death certificates.
A body of medical studies investigate the ratio of cases of lung cancer deaths caused by exposure to asbestos compared to mesothelioma fatalities. These study findings vary, with ratios spanning 2.0 to 6.6 times.
Leigh et al and LaMontagne et al indicate that epidemiologists commonly accept a 2:1 ratio.[xxxix] This ratio was found in a study by McCormack et al,[xl] is used by Leigh et al to estimate deaths from asbestos-related lung cancer from 1945-2020, and is cited by the Asbestos Management Review Report.[xli]
More recently, Driscoll suggests we can probably expect three or four cases of lung cancer for every mesothelioma case.[xlii]
The 6.6 ratio of lung cancer to mesothelioma cases comes from the international global burden study discussed above.[xliii] The legitimacy of applying the 6.6 ratio (i.e., 181,450 / 27,612) to the Australian environment is unclear.
The accepted 2:1 incidence ratio leads to 40,000 estimated fatalities from asbestos-related lung cancer from 1945 to 2020.
If the Driscoll 4 to 1 ratio is used, the equivalent estimated death count is 80,000.
If the Global Study 6.6 ratio is applied, the death count from asbestos related lung cancer since 1945 reaches 132,000.
Our researchers have been unable to locate evidence on the past or present deaths from asbestos-related ovarian and larynx cancer in Australia.
The ASEA estimate around 4,000 deaths annually from asbestos-related disease in Australia, equating to eleven deaths a day.
To reflect these deaths in context, mesothelioma alone accounts for more than 830 fatalities a year, which exceeds, or is close to, the death rates stemming from other areas of public health risk.[xliv] For example, in Australia, the number of accidental workplace fatalities each year averages 250,[xlv] the number of people who died annually from AIDS at the peak of this epidemic in the early 1990s was around 1,000,[xlvi] and the total number of deaths from COVID 19 as at 23 June 2021 was 910.[xlvii]
Lung cancer is the form of cancer linked to the highest number of fatalities a year in Australia, with an estimated 8,641 deaths during 2020.[xlviii] An estimated 3,000 of these deaths arose from asbestos exposure, although published medical studies that review international patient cohorts as a means to estimate the comparative ratios of deaths from mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer vary from 2.0 to 6.6.
The ASEA estimates that the cost for people living with an asbestos-related disease in 2015-2016 was $11 billion.[xlix]
Overall, there is strong evidence suggesting the asbestos crisis has caused, and is still causing or contributing to, tens of thousands (and possibly hundreds of thousands) of fatalities in Australia. As discussed in prior papers, the associated societal and financial impacts are also immense.[l]
The Global Burden of Disease study estimates close to a quarter of a million fatalities annually from occupational exposure to asbestos, suggesting the death counts from asbestos-related diseases are already in the millions.[li] This level of worldwide fatalities will likely continue (or even rise), given the large stocks of in situ asbestos in most developed nations and the continuing use of asbestos in other countries.[lii]
Global deaths attributable to smoking still exceed those linked to exposure to asbestos. Tobacco kills more than 8 million people globally each year.[liii] However, the act of smoking is at least somewhat voluntary, while exposure to asbestos is completely involuntary. Most (if not all) of the people who have died from asbestos-related diseases were not properly warned about the risks of exposure and were not able, or advised, to take precautionary measures.
Our researchers have analysed and are well versed in the details of prior corporate and financial scandals and crises in Australia and globally. Those that readers might be familiar with include the following:
The failure of HIH Insurance in Australia.
The collapse of Enron in the United States.
The admitted Ponzi structure of the Bernie Madoff investment companies in the United States.
The global financial crisis (“GFC”) in 2009.
The full costs associated with these companies and crises were vast, especially the GFC. But unlike the asbestos crisis, mass deaths did not arise directly from any of these company collapses or events. In our view, monetary and economic losses are one thing; large loss of human life on an involuntary basis is another. On these grounds, the asbestos crisis is the most costly and brutal of all man-made events or crises caused by corporate activity in Australia (and globally).
Unlike most forms of cancer and disease, asbestosis and mesothelioma are incurable conditions that are generally fatal. Both these conditions are manmade (or corporate induced) and remain entirely preventable by avoiding exposure to asbestos fibres and dust.[liv]
In Australia, applying the ratios suggested or accepted in the medical literature and by public health scholars, the estimated combined death counts in Australia from mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer during the period 1945 to 2020 is in the range of 60,000-152,000. These estimates exclude deaths from asbestosis and asbestos-related ovarian and larynx cancer because data on these fatalities is lacking.
If one accepts the published mesothelioma estimates and the Driscoll ratio of 4 to 1 asbestos-related lung cancer to mesothelioma cases, the estimated death count from asbestos-related diseases in Australia has already surpassed 100,000.
Deaths from asbestos-related diseases in Australia are far from over given the continued exposure of Australians to legacy asbestos and the long latency periods of mesothelioma. Thousands more Australians will likely die from asbestos exposure over the next century, including people who have already been fatally exposed and are within their latency period, and others who will unwittingly be exposed to asbestos fibres from our built environment.[lv]
Importantly, our researchers found that most prior forecasts of:
The expected number of deaths from asbestos-related disease in Australia,
The peak period of asbestos-related deaths in Australia, and
The potential settings resulting in asbestos diseases in Australia,
were consistently and significantly underestimated.[lvi]
Highly conservative forecasts from commercially interested bodies are not scientific or independent and are consistent with the longstanding patterns of conduct that conveniently ignore or discount the lives lost to asbestos-related diseases and the scale of the asbestos crisis more generally.
We posit that the continued acceptance by the powers that be in Australia of thousands of avoidable deaths each year from asbestos-related diseases would be unacceptable to the broader community if it were aware of:
The full extent of the risks and deaths involved.
The available actions that could reasonably be taken by James Hardie Industries Ltd, CSR Ltd, and federal and state policy makers to prevent future harmful exposure to legacy asbestos, especially in homes.
The record number of mesothelioma diagnoses in 2020 in Australia should be prompting urgent policy reforms and actions but instead the silence is deafening …
Asbestos Awareness Australia Ltd is a registered not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, is a registered charity, and has endorsement from the Australian Taxation Office as a gift deductible recipient. The company was set up:
To enhance public awareness and knowledge of the dangers of asbestos threats.
To promote measures and policies that prevent or minimise the harms from asbestos-related diseases.To achieve these objectives, the company provides public access to widely sourced information on asbestos risks and impacts, including the associated medical, legal, and political debates.
[i] Thomas Legge, ex Chief Medical Inspector of Factories (UK), Industrial Maladies (1934).
[iii] SafeWork Australia is the federal body overseeing the handling of asbestos in Australian workplaces.
[iv] While some of the public health records include death counts from mesothelioma or lung cancer, these sources do not discuss the full death counts from asbestos-related diseases. See, eg, Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Mesothelioma in Australia 2018 1; Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘Cancer in Australia 2019’ (Cancer 18 Series no 119. Cat no CAN 123, Canberra: AIHW) 78 “Cancer 2019”.
The fatalities webpage of Safe Work Australian indicates that 3,571 workers died from work related injuries from 2003 to 2018 (equating to an average 250 deaths a year). Deaths from diseases, such as cancer, are excluded from this statistic, without differentiation between cancers caused by occupational exposure and otherwise: See Safe Work Australia, ‘Fatality Statistics’ viewed 20 June 2021 at https://www.Safe Workaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/fatalities/fatality-statistics; Safe Work Australia, ‘Disease and Injury Statistics’ viewed 20 June 2021 https://www.Safe Workaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/disease-and-injuries/disease-and-injury-statistics; Safe Work Australia, ‘Asbestos’ viewed 20 June 2021 at https://www.Safe Workaustralia.gov.au/asbestos.
[v] Australian Government, Asbestos Management Review Report (June 2012) 15 “Management Report”. See also Matt Peacock, Killer Company (Harper Collins Publishers, 2009) 69-91 “Killer Company”. On pg 69 Peacock cites Dr McCulloch, an employee of James Hardie telling the state public health official in 1968 that ‘It helps no one to go on accumulating dubious statistics of death’.
[vi] Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, ‘Asbestos Health Risks’ viewed 16 May 2021 at https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/asbestos-health-risks-and-exposure/asbestos-health-risks.
[vii] See, eg, ‘Global and Regional Burden of Cancer in 2016 Arising from Occupational Exposure to Selected Carcinogens: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016’ (2020) 77 Occupational and Environmental Medicine 151, 152.
[viii] ‘Global and Regional Burden of Cancer in 2016 Arising from Occupational Exposure to Selected Carcinogens: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016’ (2020) 77 Occupational and Environmental Medicine 151.
[x] Safe Work Australia, Asbestos-Related Disease Indicators (August 2012) 2. For example, Bernie Banton suffered initially from asbestosis but was subsequently diagnosed with mesothelioma.
[xii] Safe Work Australia, Asbestos-Related Disease Indicators (August 2012) 2, 7.
[xiii] See, eg, KPMG, Valuation of Asbestos Related Disease Liabilities of Former James Hardie Industries Ltd Entities to be Met by the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund (19 May 2020) iii. Safe Work Australia, Asbestos-Related Disease Indicators (August 2012) 9.
[xiv] Australian Government Cancer Australia, ‘What is Mesothelioma?’ viewed 20 June 2021 at https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/cancer-types/mesothelioma-cancer. See also Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Mesothelioma in Australia 2019 (published August 2020).
[xv] Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australian Mesothelioma Registry at https://www.mesothelioma-australia.com/home/. For a history of the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, see M Soeberg, D Vallance, V Keena, Ken Takahashi and J Leigh, ‘Australia’s Ongoing Legacy of Asbestos: Significant Challenges Remain Even After Complete Banning of Asbestos Almost Fifteen Years Ago’ (2018) 15 International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health 383.
[xvi] Australian Government, Cancer Australia, ‘Mesothelioma in Australia Statistics’ viewed 23 June 2021 at https://mesothelioma-cancer.canceraustralia.gov.au/statistics.
[xvii] Australian Government, Cancer Australia, ‘Mesothelioma in Australia Statistics’ viewed 23 June 2021 at https://mesothelioma-cancer.canceraustralia.gov.au/statistics.
[xviii] Safe Work Australia, Asbestos-Related Disease Indicators (August 2012) v.
[xix] Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Mesothelioma in Australia 2018 1 “Mesothelioma 2018”.
[xx] Greg Callaghan, ‘Doctors and Lawyers are Calling it the Third Wave: The Spate of Asbestos-related Diseases Contracted Through Home Renovations and Indirect Exposure’ smh.com.au (24 November 2017).
[xxi] Mesothelioma 2018 1. See also Cancer 2019 78.
[xxii] Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cancer Data in Australia 2020: Table 3a Survival Summary (June 2020). The average 5-year survival rate of mesothelioma improved from 5.5 in 1986 to 6.3 percent in 2016.
[xxiii] See Asbestos Awareness Australia Ltd, Asbestos Related Burdens: Research (10 July 2021).
[xxiv] Mesothelioma 2018 1.
[xxv] J Leigh, P Davison, L Hendrie, and D Berry, ‘Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia: 1945-2000’ (2002) 41 American Journal of Industrial Medicine 188.
[xxvi] James Leigh and Tim Driscoll, ‘Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2002’ (2003) 9 International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 206.
[xxvii] James Leigh and Tim Driscoll, ‘Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2002’ (2003) 9 International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 206.
[xxviii] Management Report 15 citing J Leigh, P Davidson, L Hendrie and D Berry, ‘Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2000’ 41 American Journal of Industrial Medicine 188.
[xxix] Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘Mesothelioma in Australia 2019’ (published August 2020).
[xxxi] M Soeberg, D Vallance, V Keena, Ken Takahashi and J Leigh, ‘Australia’s Ongoing Legacy of Asbestos: Significant Challenges Remain Even After Complete Banning of Asbestos Almost Fifteen Years Ago’ (2018) 15 International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health 383.
[xxxii] Asbestos Disease Research Institute, 2019 Annual Report 6
[xxxiii] James Leigh and Tim Driscoll, ‘Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2002’ (2003) 9 International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 206; 209. See also MJ Soeberg, J Leigh and N van Zandwijk, ‘Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia 2015: Current Incidence and Asbestos Exposure Trends’ (2016) 19 Journal of Toxicology Environmental Health 173, 173; Mesothelioma 2018 12. The mesothelioma 2018 report notes that confirming a diagnosis of mesothelioma is often very challenging.
[xxxiv] St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, ‘Lung Cancer’ at https://www.svhs.org.au/research-education/participating-in-research-trials/early-screening-for-lung-cancer/lung-cancer.
[xxxv] St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, ‘Lung Cancer’ at https://www.svhs.org.au/research-education/participating-in-research-trials/early-screening-for-lung-cancer/lung-cancer.
[xxxvi] In Burrows v WA Government Railways Commission (1982) 1 WCR WA 177, the Court accepted evidence by Arthur Musk of the multiplicative interaction between smoking and asbestos. It found that asbestos had materially increased the risk of lung cancer to the plaintiff and on balance contributed to it. The first successful case on behalf of a plaintiff seeking compensation due to asbestos related lung cancer was Henderson v State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SCV) October 1987 (Murphy J).
[xxxvii] I J Selikoff, EC Hammond and J Churg, ‘Asbestos Exposure, Smoking, and Neoplasia’ (1968) 204 Journal of the American Medical Association 106.
[xxxviii] Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘Cancer in Australia 2019’ (Cancer 18 Series no 119. Cat no CAN 123, Canberra: AIHW) 78 “Cancer 2019”.
[xxxix] James Leigh and Tim Driscoll, ‘Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2002’ (2003) 9 International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 206; AD LaMontagne, CE Hunter, D Vallance and AJ Holloway, ‘Asbestos-related disease in Australia: Looking Forward and Looking Back’ (2008) 18 New Solutions 361.
[xl] V McCormack, J Peto, G Byrnes, K Straif and P Boffetta, ‘Estimating the Asbestos Related Lung Cancer Burden from Mesothelioma Mortality’ (2012) 106 British Journal of Cancer 575.
[xli] Management Report 15 citing J Leigh, P Davidson, L Hendrie and D Berry, ‘Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2000 41 American Journal of Industrial Medicine 188.
[xlii] Mario Christodoulou, ‘Tax on Building Materials Could Help Fund Asbestos Removal, Federal Government Advisory Body Say’, abcnews online 13 July 2018 available at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-13/asbestos-tax-on-building-materials-could-help-fund-removal/9986450.
[xliii] ‘Global and Regional Burden of Cancer in 2016 Arising from Occupational Exposure to Selected Carcinogens: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016’ (2020) 77 Occupational and Environmental Medicine 151.
[xliv] For broader public health context, 276 people lost their life to drowning in Australia from July 2018 to June 2019, the number of murders in Australia in 2018 was 375, and there were 1,161 road related deaths in Australia during the 12 months ended January 2020. See Royal Life Saving Western Australia, National Drowning Report 2019 at https://royallifesavingwa.com.au/news/community/national-drowning-report-2019; Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4510.0 – Recorded Crime – Victims, Australia, 2018 (released 27 June 2019) at
https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4510.0~2018~Main%20Features~Victims%20of%20Crime,%20Australia~3; Australian Government, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications, ‘Road Safety Statistics, https://www.bitre.gov.au/statistics/safety.
[xlv] The fatalities webpage of Safe Work Australian indicates that 3,571 workers died from work related injuries from 2003 to 2018 (equating to an average 250 deaths a year). Deaths from diseases, such as cancer, are excluded from this statistic, without differentiation between cancers caused by occupational exposure and otherwise: See Safe Work Australia, ‘Fatality Statistics’ viewed 20 June 2021 at https://www.Safe Workaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/fatalities/fatality-statistics; Safe Work Australia, ‘Disease and Injury Statistics’ viewed 20 June 2021 https://www.Safe Workaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/disease-and-injuries/disease-and-injury-statistics; Safe Work Australia, ‘Asbestos’ viewed 20 June 2021 at https://www.Safe Workaustralia.gov.au/asbestos.
[xlvi] In the early 1990s, about 1,000 Australians died from AIDS each year: Stephanie Dallzall, ‘AIDS epidemic no longer a public health issue in Australia, scientists say’ ABC online at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-10/the-ends-of-aids-as-a-public-health-issue-in-australia/7580852.
[xlvii] Australian Government Department of Health, ‘Covid Current Situation and Case Numbers’ viewed 23 June 2021 at https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-current-situation-and-case-numbers
[xlviii] Australian Government, Cancer Australia, ‘Lung Cancer Statistics’ viewed 23 June 2021 at https://lung-cancer.canceraustralia.gov.au/statistics. See also Cancer 2019 96.
[xlix] Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, National Asbestos Profile for Australia (November 2017) 30. For a description of the burden of a disease (or the disability adjusted life years: DALYS), see Cancer 2019 8.
[l] See Asbestos Awareness Australia Ltd, Asbestos Related Burdens: Societal Harms (July 2021).
[li] Assuming the estimated deaths in 2016 also occurred prior to and post 2016, a million deaths would have occurred in less than five years.
[liii] World Health Organization, ‘Tobacco’ viewed 22 July 2021 at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tobacco.
[liv] Safe Work Australia, Asbestos-Related Disease Indicators (August 2012) v.
[lv] See, eg, Julian Peto, The Killer Within (2008) 3 The University of Melbourne Voice. See also Management Report 14-15.
[lvi] See, eg, Killer Company 84; Gideon Haigh, Asbestos House: The Secret History of James Hardie Industries (Scribe Publishing Pty Ltd, Melbourne, 2006) 279. Peacock notes that prior industry projections were persistently optimistic, with peaks projected by KPMG to occur by 1990 and then subsequently in 2010. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and WorkCover NSW strongly objected to estimates given by Dr Leigh in 1996 of 10,000 new cases of mesothelioma and at least 30,000 new cases of other asbestos related diseases by 2020. WorkCover NSW suggested the Leigh’s data was ‘long regarded by actuarial and insurance experts as a gross overestimation’ and cited a study that predicted asbestos related deaths would peak by 2000. In fact, Leigh’s estimates were significantly understated.