Pattern of malignant mesothelioma incidence and occupational exposure to asbestos in Western Australia

Arthur W (Bill) Musk, Nola Olsen, Helman Alfonso, Susan Peters and Peter Franklin
Med J Aust 2015; 203 (6): . || doi: 10.5694/mja15.00337
Published online: 21 September 2015

Western Australia has one of the highest rates of malignant mesothelioma (MM) in the world.1 Early cases of MM were predominantly caused by the crocidolite mining operations at Wittenoom.1-3 During the 1950s, Australia had the highest per capita asbestos consumption in the world,2 mostly to manufacture asbestos cement, and there was an increasing number of MM cases in workers using these asbestos products. Production declined rapidly in the 1980s, and all production and importation of asbestos were prohibited from 31 December 2003.

  • 1 Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, WA
  • 2 University of Western Australia, Perth, WA
  • 3 Curtin University, Perth, WA



This research was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (project grant 634458). We acknowledge the following investigators who made a significant contribution to the collection and preparation of the data, as well as to the preparation of earlier drafts of the manuscript: Nicholas de Klerk, Alison Reid, Fraser Brims, Keith Shilkin, Timothy Threlfall and Evelyn Lee.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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  • 2. Xu Z, Armstrong BK, Blundson B, et al. Trends in mortality from malignant mesothelioma of the pleura, and production and use of asbestos in Australia. Med J Aust 1985; 143: 185-187.
  • 3. de Klerk NH, Musk AW. Epidemiology of mesothelioma. In: Robinson BWS, Chahinian AP, editors. Mesothelioma. London: Martin Dunitz, 2002: 339-349.
  • 4. Leigh J, Davidson P, Hendrie L, Berry D. Malignant mesothelioma in Australia, 1945–2000. Am J Ind Med 2002; 41: 188-201.
  • 5. Olsen NJ, Franklin PJ, Reid A, et al. Increasing incidence of malignant after exposure to asbestos during home maintenance and renovation. Med J Aust 2011; 195: 271-274. <MJA full text>


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