Poor understanding about the danger of asbestos means it is widely used in Asia and will result in thousands of cases of illness in the next few decades, researchers say.
Asia is responsible for two-thirds of global asbestos consumption, totalling more than one million tonnes a year, the West Australian-led study says.
Although some countries such as Japan, Korea and Singapore have lessened the use of asbestos, other Asian countries such as China continue to mine, import and use the fibre with little occupational protection.
A major reason for its use is that asbestos products are more affordable compared with other alternatives.
The fear of unemployment in poverty-stricken areas is also perhaps a greater concern than developing asbestos-related lung diseases, the researchers say.
Without early intervention, it is predicted that Asia, which has a population of about 4.3 billion people, will see a “tsunami” of asbestos-related illnesses in the next few decades.
The report concluded that reducing the risk of disease would require less asbestos usage, improved training for diagnosis, and co-operation from government and non-government groups in preventing sickness.