Assessment of the future mesothelioma disease burden from past exposure to asbestos in ship recycling yards in India

Richa Singh, John W. Cherrie, Bakul Rao, Shyam R. Asolekar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The recycling of end-of-life vessels is a complex activity that generates an enormous amount of hazardous waste, including asbestos-containing materials (ACM). Efforts by the Government of India to comply with national and international regulations and improved standard operating procedures are expected to lower the exposure risk of the workforce to hazardous substances, including asbestos. The current workers are likely to face lesser risks than did those exposed in the past. The present study assesses the health risks from past exposure of asbestos for those workers engaged in handling and removing ACM in ship recycling yards before environmentally sound recycling of obsolete ships was introduced in the early 2000s. Estimates were made of the number of workers exposed, and the intensity of exposure and these data were used to estimate the likely number of mesothelioma deaths in the future. It was estimated that nearly 15% of the total workforce engaged in ship recycling will suffer from mesothelioma which translates to about 4,513 mesothelioma deaths among the total of 31,000 workers estimated to be ever employed in the yards from 1994 till 2002. Recommendations are made for a practical approach to the safe handling of ACMs in Indian ship recycling yards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113478
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Early online date9 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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