by Laurie Kazan-Allen

During the 20th century, up to 9.5 million tonnes of asbestos were consumed in Germany, with annual usage peaking around 1980 at 440,000 tonnes.1 Three decades later, thousands of Germans with asbestos-related diseases find themselves caught up in a bureaucratic nightmare which leaves the vast majority unacknowledged and unsupported. Considering the ubiquity of asbestos production and use and the lack of workplace controls, it is not surprising that hotspots like Bremen and Hamburg record high incidence rates of asbestos cancer; these cities, which have Germany’s highest and second highest mesothelioma incidence rates, reported 8.3 and 4.5 cases of mesothelioma, considered the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure, per 100,000 population in 2012. According to a publication by the World Health Organization (WHO) these figures are the continuation of a long-standing trend. The WHO’s worldwide mesothelioma mortality database lists Germany as the country with the fourth highest number of deaths over the fifteen year period beginning in 1994.2 The German accident insurance institution has estimated that 190,000 of the country’s 2,000,000 asbestos-exposed workers will contract asbestos-related diseases. This figure, which equates to less than 1%, appears ludicrous in light of the comment I heard from one medical expert in Berlin who told me that at a shipyard in Northern Germany where asbestos had been used, 100% of the workers had been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. Read more

Courtesy: IBAS