there is still an asbestos risk in Italy

Compared to the past, there is less talk about asbestos. It is no longer an issue addressed almost on a daily basis, or at least monthly. On a national scale the topic has been replaced, which does not mean that the danger is behind us, on the contrary.

In Italy they still exist 40 million tons of containing materials asbestos to be reclaimed. One might mistakenly assume that this indicates there are huge deposits to deal with, but this is not the case. The material in question, banned in its various forms since 1992is in fact mainly present inside buildings and beyond.

Asbestos in Italy

Asbestos is a real and tremendously current danger in Italy. She reiterated it Alexander Miani, president of the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine (Sima). Interviewed by To sayhe expressed himself thus.

“Since 1992, it has been forbidden in Italy to extract, import, export, produce and market asbestos in its various forms. However, an estimated 40 million tonnes still need to be reclaimed in our country. They are mainly in buildings or shedsbetween industrial and agricultural areas, as well as in thousands of kilometers of water pipes”.

As mentioned, the topic is no longer at the center of the health debate in Italy, despite the correlation between exposure to this material and risk of developing mesothelioma. Why then has a great light once again been shone on this grave danger? The sad reason is represented by the news of death of journalist Franco Di Seasuffering from this rare tumor (it had actually been discussed again after the announcement of the disease by the well-known television face).

Mesothelioma risk

That of mesothelioma is a concrete and terrible risk in many regions of Italy. Miani underlines how several schools still contain asbestos, even today. This puts the health of thousands of students, teachers, administrators and ATA staff at risk.

A problem which, however, goes far beyond the single building. The presence of lichen mold, as well as cracks, together with the action of bad weather, can cause the eternit to flake. The fibers in question can therefore be transported by the wind, even reaching considerable distances.

Exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis, which is widespread scarring of lung tissue. This is due to the inhalation of asbestos dust. The great enemy, however, which terrifies many, is the rare tumor known as mesothelioma.

“It has a relatively low incidence, representing 0.8% of all tumors diagnosed in men and 0.3% in women in Italy. It should be underlined, however, that even today asbestos, decades after the ban, claims around 6 thousand victims a year in this country”.

The death of Franco Di Mare

The sad death of Franco Di Mare therefore does not represent an isolated case. The hypothesis is that the development of his mesothelioma is linked to period spent as a war correspondent. The bombs that knocked down numerous buildings have potentially revealed traces of asbestos, releasing dust containing very harmful fibers, if inhaled, with a tumor impact even decades later.

We cannot speak of an isolated case because, as Miani explains, they are expected every year between 1,500 and 2,000 new diagnoses of various pathologies related to asbestos. What could Giorgia Meloni's government do about this? The first suggestion is to act in a practical manner, guaranteeing economic and fiscal support for disposal. This is quite expensive, which is a deterrent for many. In effect, you are trading economic savings for your own health and that of many who live and work near buildings to be reclaimed.

A final warning from Miani: “It may happen that products coming from Eastern Europe or China may contain asbestos fibers (use still permitted, ed.). From some random checks, down jackets or jackets containing these fibers were found. It is not frequent, but perhaps it is preferable to spend a little more money for a product made in Italy or made in Europe”.

Mesothelioma, regions most at risk

In reference to what was highlighted by the National Asbestos Observatory in 2023, the majority of diagnoses concern men and women regions at greatest risk I am:

  • Lombardy;
  • Piedmont;
  • Liguria;
  • Lazio.

These areas account for 56% of reported cases. It should be noted that Italy was among the major producers of asbestos during the 1980s. The main extraction site, the Amiantifera di Balangero, was in Piedmont. In addition to the regions mentioned, at greatest risk, there are “green lands” throughout the country: Valle d'Aosta, Trentino Alto Adige, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Basilicata and Sardinia.