Some Italian workers are paying a high price for Italy’s former position as the top European producer of asbestos.

According to a new study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, both men and women who lived and worked in areas of heavy asbestos production are far more likely than their peers elsewhere in the country to contract peritoneal mesothelioma.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the rarer form of asbestos related cancer. While the more common pleural mesothelioma occurs in the membranes around the lungs, peritoneal mesothelioma starts on the membrane that surrounds abdominal organs. Like all forms of mesothelioma, it is asbestos-related, hard to treat, aggressive, and usually fatal.

To get an idea how prevalent peritoneal mesothelioma is in Italy and what role asbestos production might have played in its incidence, scientists from the National Institute of Health, Sapienza University, the Italian National Mesothelioma Register, and other groups evaluated national mesothelioma statistics from 1993 to 2010.They used data from Italy’s National Multiple-Causes-of-Death Database and the Italian Mesothelioma Register.

“We found an increasing trend of age standardized mortality rates in men,” reports Susanna Conti, MSc, of the National Institute of Public Health’s Unit of Statistics. “Moreover, we showed significant risks of death in several northern regions, formerly heavy asbestos users.”

In these Northern regions, asbestos was not only produced and distributed throughout Europe but was also heavily used in concrete, insulation, roof shingles, wallboard and other places.

Italy banned the mining and use of asbestos in 1992 but a 2012 report estimated that as much as 80 percent of the asbestos-containing materials in the country were still in place at that time and “may still be the cause of negative effects to the health of workers and the general population.”

If you or a family member have been affected by an asbestos related illness, please contact our experienced team on 0800 294 3065 where we will be able to help you in the best way possible.