12 April 2017

Every week on average, 20 tradesmen die from exposure to asbestos, including 4 plumbers, 6 electricians and 8 joiners – all from this hidden killer.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that develops from the cells of the mesothelium (the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body). It is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos (inhaled or ingested asbestos fibres, or exposed to airborne asbestos dust and fibres in other ways). Washing clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos also creates a risk for developing Mesothelioma.

- Asbestos is an insulating material that was widely used in may industries in the UK from the 1950s up until the mid-1980s, mainly in construction, heavy industry and shipbuilding (used in fireproofing, insulation, pipe lagging, roofing tiles/corrugated panels, ceiling tiles, textured coating, panelling, general building material, drainage pipes, flooring, fire blankets and sprayed onto other materials as a fire retardant)

- The use of blue and brown asbestos was banned in the UK in 1985

- A complete ban on the use of asbestos products was introduced when white asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999.

- Workers in many occupations may still come into regular contact with asbestos-containing materials installed before these dates and regulations apply. Note: Any building built before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) can contain asbestos

- Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged, perish, are drilled into, torn, removed etc.

Sign of Mesothelioma may not appear until 20 to 30 years (or more) after exposure to asbestos. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing and pain the chest due to an accumulation of fluid.

From 1981 to 2011, the HSE Mesothelioma register has recorded 43,400 deaths…more than 8 in 10 are male.

With thanks for this information Ken Wright, AXA Insurance, based on data sourced HSE.

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