Dormant Asbestos Risks: Six People Die Of Mesothelioma Every Day In England & Wales

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The Law Of... tackling asbestos exposure

New figures obtained from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) highlight the continued prevalence of asbestos exposure in our society, almost seven years after usage of the material was banned.

Figures Highlight The Risks Of Dormant Asbestos

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) discovered that six people across England and Wales die from asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma every day.

Commenting on the findings from APIL, Phillip Gower – Industrial Disease Partner and APIL accredited personal injury, occupational disease, and asbestos disease specialist – explains the concerning nature of this discovery.

Regional Differences

The new figures of mesothelioma deaths have been broken down into different regions, to highlight the areas of England and Wales that are most affected by mesothelioma.

Barrow-in-Furness, in Cumbria, is cited as the most affected area, with 11.57 mesothelioma deaths per 100,000 residents – this is more than two and a half times more than the English national average of 4.51.

Other high-risk areas include North and South Tyneside, Castle Point, and Fareham, all of which has a mesothelioma rate twice as high as the national average.

The ten areas with the highest mortality rate for mesothelioma are as follows:

Local AuthorityDeaths per 100,000 population
Barrow-in-Furness11.57
North Tyneside11.23
South Tyneside10.01
Castle Point9.87
Fareham9.55
Eastleigh8.59
Newcastle-upon-Tyne8.31
Brentwood8.30
Stockton-on-Tees8.05
Medway7.97

Dormant Asbestos Exposure

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is primarily associated with exposure to asbestos; 2,600 people across the UK are diagnosed with the disease every year, resulting in Britain having one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world.

The disease has a long latency period, meaning that those who were exposed to asbestos 20 to 30 years ago will only now develop the disease.

It is for this reason that the UK ban on using asbestos in construction, passed in 1999, did nothing to slow the increase of mesothelioma rates, as those being diagnosed with the cancer had already been exposed to the deadly toxin.

With dormant asbestos thought to be present in as many as half a million non-residential properties, it is clear that asbestos exposure continues to be a 21st century problem.

Despite the number of mesothelioma deaths increasing by a third over the last ten years, it is expected that mesothelioma rates will reach their peak in 2018, at which point rates should begin to decrease in line with lower asbestos usage and exposure 20 to 30 years earlier.

Phillip explains that continuing to tackle dormant asbestos today could save future generations from diseases such as mesothelioma:

"These latest figures from APIL highlight both the dangers of asbestos exposure and the high-numbers of those affected by deadly asbestos-related illnesses."

"The most difficult aspect for those affected by mesothelioma is coming to terms with the fact that their incurable illness was caused by poor practices or a lack of knowledge from decades ago."

"Concerns were first raised about the dangers of asbestos almost a century ago; however UK policy makers did not heed these warnings until 1999, meaning that the risk of exposure from dormant asbestos is higher than it should be and people will continue to be afflicted by deadly and avoidable illnesses."

"While there has been a clear effort to remove asbestos from affected buildings, local authorities and businesses need to ensure that they continue with a policy to identify and remove asbestos, before exposure makes asbestos-related illnesses a problem for decades to come."

"Those affected by mesothelioma should seek legal advice, as they may be eligible for compensation that can help them to secure the best possible healthcare as early as possible."


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