A study published in the July 23 edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that deaths due to asbestos exposure are increasing in the United States and are now the most common lung-related deaths in the country.

The other major causes of pneumonoconiosis death, including silicosis and black lung, are in decline.

The increase in asbestosis occurred despite a sharp reduction in the use of asbestos in the U.S. due to regulations imposed in the 1970s. The researchers noted that asbestos mortality peaks 40 to 45 years after the initial exposure. In 1968, 77 deaths were attributed to asbestosis, compared to 1,493 in 2000. That number will continue to rise for another decade or so.

[Steve Clark]