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National Disease Registry Promotes Remediation, Discovery of New Fiber Linked to Mesothelioma

 

Italy’s National Mesothelioma Register was established in 1993, and has been used to estimate the incidence of malignant mesothelioma in Italy, in an effort to promote research.  The registry publishes data on jobs associated with asbestos exposure, latency, survival, and prediction for deaths due to mesothelioma in coming years.  There are 34,000 sites identified by the Ministry of the Environment as sites where asbestos is present, and many of the sites are candidates for remediation.  This is the first national-level study of asbestos related disease that singled out and studied pleural mesothelioma cases. 

The Registry has also shown where there are increased distributions of pleural mesothelioma in Italy, which has lead to the identification of areas of the country where monitoring and remediating efforts should be targeted.  The Registry has shown that not only are there certain industry workers (i.e. those working in the shipbuilding industry) who are affected by the disease, but there are increased incidences of mesothelioma diagnoses in areas where there are no industrial activities (i.e. Biancavilla).  Identification of non-occupational diagnoses allowed the Ministry to determine that there were certain fibers found in a stone quarry, whose products were used in the local building and road paving industry, that were found to cause mesothelioma.  These fibers, known as fluoro-edenite, and their link to mesothelioma, were discovered, in part, due to the national collection of disease data. 

Because of the national-level of the study, as well as the use of specific data collection categories, the Ministry can then prioritize intervention and evaluate the effectiveness of environmental remediation efforts based on the data collected from these areas where there are clusters of diagnosed individuals.  While data collection of this magnitude requires cooperation between multiple groups, including victims’ rights groups, medical professionals, and industries, identification and remediation of these sites can benefit all the residents of the country. 

 

Fazzo, et al, “Mesothelioma mortality surveillance and asbestos exposure tracking in Italy,” Ann 1st Super Sanita 2012, vol 48, no 3: 300-310. 

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