Los Angeles County Has Highest Number of Asbestos-Related Deaths Among Counties Nationwide, Report Finds
Los Angeles County had the highest number of asbestos-related deaths among counties nationwide from 1979 to 2001, and the incidence of asbestos-related illnesses in the county likely will increase over the next 20 years, according to a report released Thursday by the Environmental Working Group, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer that often is fatal, and asbestosis -- the development of scar tissue in the lungs -- which often is not fatal. The report estimates that 1,227 county residents died from asbestos-related illnesses between 1979 and 2001. The report attributed the high number of asbestos-related deaths in Los Angeles County in part to widespread use of asbestos in the shipping industry and post-World War II construction. Asbestos-related illnesses can remain dormant for 20 to 50 years, and as a result, the incidence of such illnesses in the county will likely increase in the future, according to the report. "We need to think of this as a 50-year problem because we still haven't banned asbestos," Richard Wiles, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, said (Cavanaugh, Los Angeles Daily News, 3/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.