7 Things You Need to Know About Asbestos


Parents in Sunderland are breathing a sigh of relief this week after it's been announced that plans to build an asbestos waste site were abandoned after the community petitioned against it. The asbestos site would have been close to a nursery and 2 primary schools.

7 Things You Need to Know About Asbestos

So do you know why this was such a huge concern for so many parents? Here are 7 things you need to know about asbestos from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the NHS website:

1. It is a fibrous natural material which was widely used because of its strength and resistance to heat, only in the 1960's was it discovered that exposure to even small amounts of asbestos could prove fatal.

2. More people die from asbestos related illness than die on UK roads, it kills around 5000 workers every year. Around 20 people die every week because of exposure.

3. It only became illegal to use any form of asbestos when building in the year 1999. This means that there could be asbestos in any building built before this date. It can still sometimes be found in our own homes, in schools, hospitals and many workplaces.

4. Asbestos fibres are colourless and odourless. You can't see the fibres, and they can be airborne and inhaled.

5. The main serious diseases caused by asbestos exposure are:

  1. Mesothelioma – This is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the lung lining. Mesothelioma is almost always fatal and according to the NHS website, the average person survives for just 12 months following diagnosis.
  2. Asbestos related lung cancer – This is a type of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It's similar to lung cancer caused by smoking.
  3. Asbestosis – People who have been heavily exposed to asbestos can be left with fibrosis of the lungs caused by the asbestos fibres. This is called asbestosis, it can be fatal and sufferers have a high risk of developing mesothelioma.

6. People affected may not become ill until 20-50 years after exposure.

7. Those who smoke and who have been exposed to asbestos have the highest risk of dying from lung cancer.

It's easy to see why greater safety measures must be adopted to protect people working in environments where they could be at risk of asbestos exposure. Sadly, we're still seeing many people who have been exposed in the past falling ill, and some employers are still not adopting best practice in keeping workers safe.

Our Industrial Disease team at Simpson Millar LLP are experienced in supporting people who have fallen ill after being exposed to asbestos in the past and their families. If you have fallen ill and your employer, past or present, could be to blame, it's important to get the right legal advice.

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