Carpenters face asbestos death


In the largest global study of its kind, funded by Cancer Research UK and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), researches have predicted that one in 17 UK carpenters born in the 1940s will die of the asbestos-related lung cancer mesothelioma.

The researches also calculated the deadly disease would strike one in 50 plumbers, electricians and decorators and one in 125 other construction workers. More than 2,100 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year.

The study, which appears in the British Journal of Cancer, also found that the lifetime risk of the disease among workers exposed to asbestos for more than a decade before the age of 30. The findings are based on interviews with more than 600 patients with mesothelioma and 1,400 healthy people.

The authors also found that around two-thirds of all British men and a quarter of women had worked in jobs involving potential asbestos exposure at some time in their lives. There was also a small increased risk in those who had lived with someone who had been exposed to asbestos.

The UK mesothelioma death rate is now the highest in the world, with 1,749 deaths in men in 2005. The risk is highest in people who were exposed to asbestos before age 30. New regulations introduced in 1970 reduced exposure to asbestos in factories but heavy exposure to the much larger workforce in construction and various other industries continued.

It is therefore important that accurate information for workers and regulation of the asbestos still in buildings is adhered to and keeps pace with the findings of such studies. This article was written by Helen England, Solicitor – Asbestos disease team.

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