South African asbestos: production, exports, and destinations, 1959-1993

Am J Ind Med. 1998 Apr;33(4):321-6. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199804)33:4<321::aid-ajim2>;2-x.


Production and export figures of South African asbestos were analyzed over 1959-1993. They show stable sales of chrysotile. Those of crocidolite and amosite reached their peaks in the mid-1970s, after which trade fell drastically, crocidolite to 5% of its earlier peak and amosite to nil. Factors responsible for these virtual collapses were health issues, stricter legislation in First World countries, and litigation. In 1992, 21 countries continued to import crocidolite, although in reduced quantities. In the early 1960s, Europe and North America were the major recipients of South African asbestos. By 1989-91, these regions were surpassed by the Far East, which took over 90% of chrysotile and 70% of amosite. For crocidolite at that time, the Middle East took nearly 40%, Europe 28%, and Africa 21%. This implies that the newly importing countries can confidently expect an increase in asbestos-related disease and death well into the twenty-first century, even if the trade ceased now.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos*
  • Asbestos, Amosite
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite
  • Asbestos, Serpentine
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Extraction and Processing Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Extraction and Processing Industry / trends
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Mining / statistics & numerical data
  • Mining / trends
  • South Africa


  • Asbestos, Serpentine
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite
  • Asbestos, Amosite
  • Asbestos