In late 1960’s, physician Dr. J. Stumphius identified twenty-five cases of a rare aggressive tumor known as mesothelioma among shipyard “Royal Schelde” workers due to asbestos exposure (1,2). Further observations showed an increase of mesothelioma cases among these workers. In 1974, the number of cases totaled 42; in 1978, the number rose to 57. The commercial use of asbestos in the Netherlands peaked in the 1970’s with the import of 50,000 tons of this ‘magic’ mineral and 150,000 tons of products annually (3). Five million tons of asbestos containing material still remains incorporated within our national infrastructure. Eternit, an asbestos cement factory in Goor processed asbestos until a ban on its use was introduced in 1993. For years, the factory dumped its asbestos-containing waste by simply putting the waste at the disposal of anyone who wanted to pave a road or a farmyard. So right now, there are miles of road paved around Goor with asbestos, exposing the local people to asbestos dust each time they use these roads. In The Netherlands, the public is getting increasingly familiar with the word asbestos and asbestos related disease, including mesothelioma. There is media interest during renovation, demolition or fire in buildings containing asbestos and the threat that the dust then poses to the public when carried by wind to surrounding areas. Also persons wearing respiratory and other personal protection equipment while removing asbestos containing materials can easily be encountered. Almost everyone who lives in industrialized areas of the western world has asbestos fibers in their lungs, and many can remember being exposed to asbestos incidentally. In the United States, the gray cloud that covered New York on September 11th, 2001, brought about much more awareness of the public to the word mesothelioma.

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Hoogsteden, Prof. Dr. H.C. (promotor), Lambrecht, Prof. Dr. H.N. (promotor), Stichting Asbestkanker Rotterdam, The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF)
H.C. Hoogsteden (Henk)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hegmans, J. (2006, December 6). Advances in diagnosis and treatment of malignant mesothelioma. Retrieved from