Asbestos disease predictions too low

Wednesday, 11 April, 2007


The future incidence of asbestos-related disease has been underestimated, according to an epidemiologist from The Australian National University.

The analysis by Dr Mark Clements, from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, shows the peak number of cases of mesothelioma will occur four years later and the future total incidence may be 35% higher than existing models have predicted.

The pattern for mesothelioma reflects changes in asbestos exposure and therefore reflects predictions for all asbestos-related diseases, Clements said.

These early results have implications for asbestos-related disease liability schemes, Clements said, although more detailed work is needed to properly integrate other factors related to the actuarial implications.

According to the research, an existing model developed by auditor KPMG gave the peak of mesothelioma cases as occurring in 2010, with 3530 cases in New South Wales men. However, Dr Clements said their own epidemiological model showed the peak could occur as late as 2017 and see 6430 cases of the deadly disease in NSW men.

"There is reasonable evidence that the peak of mesothelioma incidence is later than 2010. This has far-reaching consequences for actuarial predictions, where the number of cases out to 2060 may be in excess of 35% higher than the number predicted by KPMG's model," he said.

"Although these results have implications for liability, there are several steps between predicting mesothelioma incidence and calculating liability," he said. "Moreover, modelling would be required for other asbestos-related diseases.

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