Papua New Guinea – Medical experts in Papua New Guinea are calling on the country’s government to ban the importation of asbestos for construction and building purposes. Although asbestos has been banned for use in construction by most countries, it is still being used in Papua New Guinea. They are also calling for tighter building controls to regulate and reduce exposure as much as possible, since exposure to this insulating mineral material can lead to mesothelioma.
Asbestos, a fibrous mineral material once used in nearly every construction project around the world, has been determined as the cause of the rare and aggressive cancer mesothelioma. When individuals are exposed to asbestos – which can be contained in insulation, paint, clothing, and more – the fibers can be easily breathed in and become stuck in the lining of the lungs and organs, a membrane called the mesothelium. Once in the mesothelium, these sharp fibers are unable to leave the body, instead building up after each exposure. Inhalation of these fibers can lead to the development of mesothelioma and cause damage to cells and organs.
“We already have evidence to show that some of our patients who have died from lung cancer due to mesothelioma (were exposed) to the asbestos from fibro [insulation],” said Papua New Guinea Medical Society president Dr Mathias Sapuri. “The Medical Society of PNG is calling on the appropriate building industry authorities and the government to ensure that we put in place regulations to ban importation of fibro for building.”
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer affecting nearly 3,000 people in the United States each year, and thousands more worldwide. It is a dangerous cancer in that its latency period can be decades long, meaning symptoms of the disease may not become evident until it has progressed to an advanced stage. Many mesothelioma patients are in their 50s or 60s when diagnosed, and may only have a few short months or years to live.
Those who suspect they may have been exposed to asbestos from an occupation or other cause should seek the advice of a doctor and undergo testing for possible mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.