J Korean Med Sci.  2009 Jun;24(3):363-367. 10.3346/jkms.2009.24.3.363.

Overview of Asbestos Issues in Korea

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Industrial Medical Center, the Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. cyclor@catholic.ac.kr


Asbestos is a carcinogen that causes diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer in humans. There was a sharp increase in the use of asbestos in Korea in the 1970s as Korea's economy developed rapidly, and asbestos was only recently banned from use. Despite the ban of its use, previously applied asbestos still causes many problems. A series of asbestos-related events that recently occurred in Korea have caused the general public to become concerned about asbestos. Therefore, it is necessary to take proper action to deal with asbestos-related events, such as mass outbreaks of mesothelioma among residents who lived near asbestos textile factories or asbestos mines. Although there have been no rapid increases in asbestos-related illnesses in Korea to date, such illnesses are expected to increase greatly due to the amount of asbestos used and long latency period. Decreasing the asbestos exposure level to levels as low as possible is the most important step in preventing asbestos-related illnesses in the next few decades. However, there is a lack of specialized facilities for the analysis of asbestos and experts to diagnose and treat asbestos-related illnesses in Korea; therefore, national-level concern and support are required.


Asbestos; Mesothelioma; Lung Neoplasms; Asbestosis; Korea
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