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The Rate of Malignant Mesothelioma is Increasing for Women

The Rate of Malignant Mesothelioma is Increasing for Women

Asbestos Litigation

The epidemic of asbestos-related disease continues, and the rate of mesothelioma, a rare cancer associated with the inhalation of asbestos fiber, is increasing in women. The of women in the workplace and at home is attributed to the elevated rate of female mesothelioma.


Mesothelioma claims have a long legacy flowing from occupational disease exposures in the workplace and bystander exposures. The next wave was civil lawsuits for negligence, concealment, and intentional actions that morphed into the longest-running tort in American history.

Health Care & Homemaking

A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that women are at substantial risk for mesothelioma. The annual number of deaths with mesothelioma among women significantly increased, from 489 (age-adjusted death rate = 4.8 per 1 million women) in 1999 to 614 (4.2) in 2020. The most significant number of deaths in 2020 was associated with the health care and social assistance industry (89; 15.7%) and homemaker occupation (129; 22.8%).

Latency Period

The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause malignant mesothelioma, a rapidly progressing and lethal cancer of the mesothelium, the thin layer of tissues surrounding internal organs in the chest and abdomen. Patients with malignant mesothelioma have a poor prognosis, with a median survival of 1 year from diagnosis. The estimated median interval from initial occupational asbestos exposure to death is 32 years (range = 13–70 years).

Occupational asbestos exposure is most often reported in men working in industries such as construction and manufacturing; however, women are also at risk for exposure to asbestos fibers, and limited data exist on longer-term trends in mesothelioma deaths among women.

Ban Asbestos

Asbestos has been used in manufacturing and insulation for decades in the US. It has not yet been completely banned in the US. However, the US EPA is struggling to limit its use through a tedious Rule making regulatory process (TSCA Section 6 Risk Management for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos) EPA-HQ-OPPT-2021-0057.

Occupational and Bystander Exposure

“Among men, an estimated 85% of mesotheliomas were attributable to work-related asbestos exposure. Among women, the overall attributable risk was estimated at approximately 23%. Although occupational asbestos exposure is most often recognized among men working in shipbuilding, construction, manufacturing, and other industrial settings where women are less likely to be employed, exposure can also occur in other work settings as a consequence of disturbance of previously installed friable asbestos-containing materials during maintenance or renovation, or the resuspension of settled fibers in the air caused by dusting, sweeping, or cleaning. Exposures can also occur in work and nonwork settings through pathways, including potential environmental exposure to naturally occurring asbestos, indoors when older building materials containing asbestos are present, or from take-home exposures by indirect contact via family members who were exposed to asbestos fibers at workplaces outside of the home.”

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,  The Rate of Malignant Mesothelioma is Increasing for Women,, May 12, 2022),

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne, NJ, is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Blog: Workers ' Compensation
Twitter: jongelman
LinkedIn: JonGelman
LinkedIn Group: Injured Workers Law & Advocacy Group
Author: "Workers' Compensation LawWest-Thomson-Reuters

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,  The Rate of Malignant Mesothelioma is Increasing for Women, (2020),

© 2001-2023 Jon L Gelman. All rights reserved.

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