A historic timeline of asbestos exposure in Denmark has been created. This is the first known attempt to compile asbestos measurements in Danish workplaces.
The Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment released a new report. It indicates that historical asbestos exposure measurements are valuable for current risk assessment.
Asbestos Measurements and Concentrations
This work shows the airborne fiber concentration ranges in specific work tasks. And it is divided into different industries over time. The historical asbestos exposure database contained 9,236 records. Of these, 5,869 data entries contained high-quality measurements of asbestos concentrations. The database includes data from 1971 to 1997.
These historic reports can identify specific work scenarios with high asbestos exposures. There had not been any previous attempt to review the Danish asbestos measurements.
Pulling Together a Database
This data shows whether inhalation exposure levels to asbestos have evolved over time. It also describes exposure patterns within industries and occupations. It is important to know the historical asbestos exposure concentrations. The associated descriptions of working conditions is also helpful.
Sources of stored data were collated, assessed, and refined to create a single database. This database measured historical asbestos fiber concentrations. It is reported by specific work tasks and different industries.
The final database contains 9,236 asbestos measurements. It includes Danish workplaces from 1971 to 1997.
Looking at a Timeline of Asbestos Exposure
Since the 19th century, asbestos were widely used in several industries. Its extraordinary tensile strength, and resistance to heat and corrosion were useful.
After 1980, all exposure concentrations decreased by one-eighth each measurement period. This shows promising reductions in asbestos concentrations.
Often more than 20 years pass between asbestos exposure to a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Asbestos concentrations were highest in construction services. Particularly during active handling of asbestos products. The highest levels stem from the period 1981–1997. But lack of measurements before 1981 does not allow a comparison with previous years.
Saving Lives Today
The complete National database file is available in the supplementary information.
This database is considered helpful to identify specific work with high asbestos exposure levels. This includes exposures that have occurred or may still occur in specific industries. Industries with building craftsmen during repair, renovation, or demolition activities were most affected.
The database on historical asbestos measurements presented in this study has some limitations. Yet the data allowed the identification of specific work scenarios where exposure might still occur.
This data can support historical health effect assessments. It can also provide information for current risk assessment. It can help inform management procedures. And it can predict occupational health effects over the next decade.
Fonseca, A. S., Jørgensen, A. K., Larsen, B. X., Moser-Johansen, M., Flachs, E. M., Ebbehøj, N. E., … & Jensen, K. A. (2022). Historical Asbestos Measurements in Denmark—A National Database. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(2), 643. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19020643