Occupational and environmental asbestos exposure continues to represent a public health problem, despite increasingly restrictive laws adopted by most industrialized countries. We present 75 subjects with past asbestos exposure (66 males, 9 females; mean age: 62 years), who came to our observation from November 2000 to May 2006, as outpatients (n = 58) or day-hospital cases (n = 17). Fiftysix subjects had been exposed to asbestos occupationally, and 10 in the general environment. In 9 cases the exposure had been combined (occupational and environmental). At least one asbestos-related pathological condition was diagnosed in 36 patients: 16 cases of pleural plaques, 9 of asbestosis (with pleural plaques in 6 patients), 10 of pleural mesothelioma, 1 of peritoneal mesothelioma. Our case record indicates that, although asbestos is banned in Italy since 1992, asbestos-related diseases continue to be commonly observed in the clinical practice. Worrisome is the individuation of 7 cases of mesothelioma (one of them peritoneal). This finding agrees with epidemiological projections suggesting that the mortality from pleural mesothelioma in Western Europe each year will almost double until around 2018. Thus, sanitary and epidemiologic surveillance of people ex-exposed to asbestos should continue, to identify and treat the long latency cases, and to evaluate the effects of low doses exposures.
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