The continuing fight in Turkey against Asbestos and Mesothelioma

 By Warren Miller.   24th September 2020

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which has 2 two classes: Serpentine and Amphibole. The serpentine class includes Fibrous chrysotile. The Amphibole class includes anthophyllite, tremolite, actinolite, amosite and crocidolite.

Asbestos in Turkey

Exposure to these asbestos fibres is a huge problem in Turkey and can lead to malignant mesothelioma in later life. Most victims of this and other asbestos diseases were exposed at the work place, mostly through the 1960s and 70s. However, in Turkey there is so much naturally occurring asbestos that rates of mesothelioma are now very high.

Many residential areas were built on asbestos soil, with tens of thousands of people still in contact with the fibres and dust. Asbestos has been found in 203 villages in 87 counties and a total of 45 cities of Turkey. The total population under environmental asbestos risk in Turkey is thought to be around about 72,000.

Is Asbestos still used Turkish Industry?

Asbestos was banned in Turkey a decade ago, however, asbestos that was already in circulation continues to exist in different forms and the daily use of these products contines to cause a risk to public health.

It has been noted that there has been a communication breakdown between the Health Ministry, The Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services that has lead to a failure to apply the "Asbestos Procedure". This has resulted in the continued use of asbestos in industries such as automotive, construction, aviation and textiles.

Another problem has been the regulation of demolition with Turkey’s Chamber of Geological Engineers noting that:

“ The Demolition Procedure of 2012 hasn’t been finalized by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, so the asbestos risk in demolitions still applies . . . Asbestos bans are not enough along to protect the well-being of the public, the environment or workers. Preventative and protective measures must be taken against the asbestos risk we face daily. ”

Is Productivity Lost from Mesothelioma in Turkey?

Turkish Researchers have recently devised a method of calculating the costs of the disease in their country. They are considering how it develops, it's treatment as well as reporting on the costs of the disease in terms of loss of productivity for the country.

The results of the research were recently published in the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health.
They looked at the age of the mesothelioma victims at the time of death and subtracted this from their life expectancy. By factoring out those who were over 65 at the time of death, they found that male mesothelioma victims lost on average of 26 productive years and female victims lost an average of 28 productive years.

They also analysed the cost to the Turkish economy by multiplying the predicted annual earnings of the mesothelioma victims by the number of years lost. They factored in the disparity between male and female earnings and found the cost to be around £36,000 per person - a high number relative to the economy of Turkey.

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease, we are here to help. Call us on the number below and ask for Kathy Cooke or Warren Miller

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