Asbestos Consumption and Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality Trends in the Major User Countries

Ann Glob Health. 2023 Feb 13;89(1):11. doi: 10.5334/aogh.4012. eCollection 2023.


Background: The causal association between mesothelioma and asbestos exposure is conclusive, and many studies have proved that the trend in asbestos use is a strong predictor of the pattern in mesothelioma cases with an adequate latency time (generally around 30-40 years or more). Recently, a novel approach for predicting malignant pleural mesothelioma, based on asbestos consumption trend and using distributed non-linear models, has been applied.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to analyse trends in asbestos consumption and malignant mesothelioma mortality in the major asbestos-user countries. Furthermore, we applied distributed non-linear models to estimate and compare epidemiological relationships between asbestos consumption and mesothelioma mortality across these countries.

Methods: The study involves major asbestos-user countries in which historical asbestos consumption and mesothelioma mortality data are available. Data on asbestos consumption were derived from worldwide asbestos supply and mesothelioma mortality data from World Health Organization (WHO) mortality archives. A quasi-Poisson generalized linear model was used to model past asbestos exposure and male mesothelioma mortality rates in each country. Exposure-response associations have been modelled using distributed lag non-linear models.

Findings and conclusions: According to the criteria defined above, we selected 18 countries with raw asbestos cumulative consumptions higher than two million tons in the period 1933-2012. Overall, a clear linear relationship can be observed between total consumption and total deaths for mesothelioma. Country-specific exposure, lag and age-response relationships were identified and common functions extracted by a meta-analysis procedure. Non-linear models appear suitable and flexible tools for investigating the association between mesothelioma mortality and asbestos consumption. There is a need to improve the global epidemiological surveillance of asbestos-related diseases, particularly mesothelioma mortality, and the absence of reliable data for some major asbestos-user countries is a real concern. A reliable assessment of mesothelioma mortality is a fundamental step towards increasing the awareness of related risks and the need of an international ban on asbestos.

Keywords: asbestos; distributed non-linear models; international ban; mesothelioma; mortality.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma* / epidemiology
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Pleural Neoplasms*
  • World Health Organization


  • Asbestos