An online tool for the past asbestos exposure assessment in Australia

Researchers from Australia have developed an innovative novel tool to be used in the Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR) for the assessment of exposure to asbestos in the past.

Researchers have published this work in the month of March, this year, in the journal of Safety and Health at work.

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare but most harmful form of cancer of lungs caused primarily by exposure to asbestos. It has been reported that its occurrence has been increasing since 1950s. Although it may vary as for example from 7 per million in Japan to 40 per million in Australia, which has one of the highest reported incidences in the world.

This new tool, which is web application, has been named as “OccIDEAS”. This tool has been developed for checking back over the exposure to asbestos in the past in the Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR), so that proper exposure assessment could be made.

There are twelve questionnaire modules for occupational assessment and one module for non-occupational assessment. These modules are alongwith interviews using OccIDEAS, which not only stores data obtained through modules but also gives environment for developing metrics of exposure.

Job specific module names

You can read the abstract of the paper here,

Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon but rapidly fatal disease for which the principal aetiological agent is exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is of particular significance in Australia where asbestos use was very widespread from the 1950s until the 1980s. Exposure to asbestos includes occupational exposure associated with working with asbestos or in workplaces where asbestos is used and also ‘take-home’ exposure of family members of asbestos exposed workers. Asbestos exposure may also be non-occupational, occurring as a consequence of using asbestos products in non-occupational contexts and passive exposure is also possible, such as exposure to asbestos products in the built environment or proximity to an environmental source of exposure, for example an asbestos production plant. The extremely long latency period for this disease makes exposure assessment problematic in the context of a mesothelioma registry. OccIDEAS, a recently developed online tool for retrospective exposure assessment, has been adapted for use in the Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR) to enable systematic retrospective exposure assessment of consenting cases. Twelve occupational questionnaire modules and one non-occupational module have been developed for the AMR, which form the basis of structured interviews using OccIDEAS, which also stores collected data and provides a framework for generating metrics of exposure.


Ewan Macfarlane, Geza Benke, Malcolm R Sim, and Lin Fritschi, (2012). OccIDEAS: An Innovative Tool to Assess Past Asbestos Exposure in the Australian Mesothelioma Registry. Safety and Health at work,

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