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Asbestos health fallout inflicts huge economic toll

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Asbestos-related diseases continue to impose a “substantial burden” on the economy, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency says in an executive summary report.

It says medical treatment alone cost the hospital and primary healthcare system $192 million in 2015 including $53.7 million for hospital admissions.

An estimated 4152 people died in 2015 from asbestos-related diseases.

The indirect impact on the economy in the form of lost productivity and “social fallout” are estimated at about $321 million.

“Asbestos-related diseases impose a substantial burden on sufferers and the wider community and economy,” the report says.

“Not all costs associated with asbestos-related diseases are known, and certainly not all costs are measurable based on data that is available today.

Key areas where costs have not been quantified include the toll on mental health as well as the costs of governance and the reporting framework that surrounds current levels of asbestos in the community.