Mesothelioma illness

Dangers of asbestos fibres - Cause of Mesothelioma Cancer

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs, and associated almost exclusively with exposure to asbestos. Just one fibre is enough to cause the disease.

If you have been exposed to asbestos during your life and been diagnosed with Mesothelioma you may be able to claim compensation for your illness. Talk to our experts and find out how they can help you and your family today.

Key Mesothelioma Information:

Exposure to asbestos

A long "lag time" between exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma can apply, varying from a minimum of about 10 years upwards, the average interval falling in the order of 30 to 40 years.

Cases of mesothelioma in the UK appear most prominently in those individuals who previously worked in ship building, construction and railway engineering (which used significant amounts of asbestos) and asbestos product manufacturing industries.

Who, Where, When and How

Government statistics show that the areas with the highest mesothelioma incidences in the UK include:

  • West Dumbartonshire
  • Barrow-in-Furness
  • Plymouth
  • Portsmouth, and
  • South Tyneside

This is due to the association and past exposure to asbestos in ship building. Other areas with high overall rates generally associated with past asbestos exposure are those close to or containing railway engineering sites, including:

  • Eastleigh
  • Crewe
  • Nantwich
  • as well as factories that made asbestos products, such as Barking, Dagenham and Newham

Case Example

Asbestos lagging materials cause worker's mesothelioma illness

Our client was diagnosed as suffering from mesothelioma and instructed us to pursue a claim for damages as a result of his exposure to asbestos during his working life. He worked for a company who were engaged in the manufacture of boilers and asbestos lagging was used as an insulating material when the boilers were assembled in the fabrication shop. The asbestos lagging was cut to size generating asbestos dust and it was part of our client's job to sweep up the off cuts in this area and to handle the asbestos lagging to include also the woven asbestos blankets used when undertaking welding work and the asbestos gloves.

After a full medical report was undertaken from our consultant chest physician and contact was made with the company's insurers a swift settlement offer of £190,000 was received.

An increasing proportion of cases include diagnosis of individuals who may have had less intense exposure such as the building industry (carpenters, electricians, demolition workers etc) and people who have worked in buildings where the use of or disruption of asbestos materials occurs.

This area now represents the majority of new cases, therefore, a large number of people who are at risk of the disease may be unaware of their exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma can also affect family members who have come into contact with asbestos fibres eg handling of clothing worn at work. This is known as secondary exposure and is becoming a common cause of mesothelioma in individuals.

Men are considered at a higher risk of for mesothelioma due to the direct exposure from the at-risk occupations, although it is believed that the 15% of female cases are for the most part due to secondary, passive exposure eg by washing the clothing of their husbands or close relatives who worked in asbestos industries.

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Gavin Evans | Partner &  Head of Industrial Disease | Simpson Millar LLP

Gavin Evans
Partner, Head of Industrial Disease

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