Where do we stand?


In order to have a good understanding, accurate facts and figures are essential. Rob Jongeneel and Petra Eysink, researchers at the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) present the latest data.

Rob Jongeneel

‘One person every six minutes dies from lung cancer’

“Despite the huge number of deaths that are caused by cancer in the workplace each year, there is always a need for some awareness raising. For a combination of reasons, the figures don't necessarily lead to a full-realisation of the complexity and urgency of the problem. Almost 80,000 people die each year in the EU from lung cancer: that is one per every six minutes. In monetary terms, about 40 million euros is lost per hour as a result of cancer related illnesses in the workplace. The exact figures might be disputed by some (particularly employers and large companies) but the figures provide the broad context for the issue that we are confronting. For me, every death as a result of work-related cancer is one death too many. 2.4 billion euros are spent each year on treatment and diagnosis of work-related cancer. These costs include the primary treatment, emergency treatment, outpatient and medication costs. There are also the indirect costs: loss of income, informal care, productivity loss due to mortality and morbidity. In short, the costs are direct, indirect and intangible.”

Petra Eysink

‘I would like to have more precise statistics’

“This conference provides an important opportunity to work together and make Europe a safer place to work. Part of this is through coming to terms with the numbers, in terms of deaths each year caused by work-related cancer and the resulting costs. As researchers, we are faced with the challenge of continually updating our data. We are always looking for ways to continue our research so that we can be broader and more thorough in our investigations. I would like to have more precise statistics. I want to know how many people are really exposed, so we can know what to expect for the future. We would also like to know the differences between countries. For this conference, we have focused on chemical substances and cancer. But we can also consider other diseases. Our most thorough research comes from the United Kingdom and Finland, and these figures complemented each other well. But, on the other hand, we do feel that the statistics we have gathered are only the tip of the iceberg.”