Based on information collected from the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, Safe Work Australia released their first annual report documenting mesothelioma diagnoses earlier this month. The Australian Mesothelioma Registry became operational in 2011.
This first report documents 612 new cases of mesothelioma in Australia, from which the agency extrapolates a rate of 2.7 people with mesothelioma for every 100,000 in Australia. Because the Australian Mesothelioma Registry is new, Safe Work Australia notes that there may actually be a higher rate of mesothelioma in the nation, stating that the 612 cases are “considered an underestimate of the total number of people diagnosed in 2011 at this stage, due to possible delays in confirming or coding some diagnoses.”
Based on information gathered, Safe Work Australia reports that 310 of mesothelioma patients diagnosed in 2011 have died—roughly 50.7 percent of cases. Men make up the vast majority of mesothelioma cases in Australia at 84.5 percent. 78.8 percent of cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 65.
To help compile this data, 100 Australian mesothelioma patients completed a questionnaire about asbestos exposure, while 87 of those people also participated in a phone interview. Of those 87 patients:
- 32 patients had only non-occupational asbestos exposure
- 14 had only occupational exposure to asbestos
- 35 had both occupational and non-occupational exposure
- 6 had neither occupational nor non-occupational exposure
The trades most represented by these patients were construction and building, followed by electrical and related trades.
According to this report, Australia has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world. Through the mid-1980s, Australia produced and was one of the world’s highest users of asbestos in a number of products, including flooring, insulation, wall and roof sheeting, fireproofing, and automobile brake linings. General use of asbestos gaskets and brakes was not discontinued in Australia until 2003.