Global Asbestos Awareness Week: 1-7 April 2022
Global Asbestos Awareness Week – Increasing Awareness of the Dangers of Asbestos Exposure
This year, the week of 01 April – 07 April 2022 is dedicated to Global Asbestos Awareness Week – seven days committed to increasing awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure and how the world can unite to put an end to exposure from this deadly substance.
Why is Asbestos so Dangerous?
Asbestos, in every form, is carcinogenic to humans. Once the fibres are inhaled, they cannot be overcome by the body’s immune system.
Following World War II, asbestos was broadly used in a variety of products; including insulation, building materials, car brakes and pipe lagging. Therefore, despite an eventual ban on the importation, supply and use of all asbestos since 1999 within the UK, asbestos continues to be present within 1.5 million buildings within Great Britain; including 75% of schools. Not only has prominent asbestos exposure during the 1950s – 1990s led to an influx of asbestos-related disease, present-day and future generations are also presented with a lifetime risk of asbestos exposure, and the potentially fatal implications this carries.
Impact of Asbestos Exposure
The World Health Organization estimates 107,000 deaths per year as a result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
Within the UK, asbestos-related disease deaths have reached over 5,000 per year currently, according to the latest statistics published by HSE in December 2021. Based upon a national death rate of 608,002 reported in 2020, asbestos-related deaths account for approximately 1% of deaths in the UK. As a comparison, HSE reports asbestos is responsible for the death of approximately 20 tradespeople in the UK every week. This is shocking given the danger of asbestos use has been well-recognised for over 55 years; though it is further evidence of its enduring consequences. The annual asbestos-related deaths figure has increased sharply over the last 50 years and is predicted to continue at current levels for the remainder of the decade.
Inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres can affect the lungs or pleura (lining of the lungs), and cause acute, malignant conditions or benign, chronic conditions. All asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period, meaning it takes a significant amount of time for any symptoms to arise following exposure to asbestos dust in the past.
Common symptoms of asbestos-related diseases include chest pain, shortness of breath, a persistent cough, constant tiredness and unexplained weight loss. Our specialist Asbestos Team would urge any individual who is suffering from these symptoms to seek medical advice or contact their GP without delay. If an early diagnosis can be made, this will afford more treatment options and funding for the individual.
Mesothelioma is considered to be caused exclusively from exposure to asbestos fibres; even just minimal exposure. According to the Institute of Cancer Research, the UK has the highest death rate from mesothelioma; with recent figures from HSE suggesting 2,369 deaths from mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer which normally develops in the layers of tissue that cover each lung (the pleura); though it can also affect the lining of the heart (pericardial) and abdomen (peritoneal). Symptoms often appear late in the development of the disease and the average life expectancy for a diagnosed patient is sadly around 12 months from onset, though many people are now living longer with the illness, through access to new drugs .
Lung Cancer develops when a malignant tumour forms within the lung. This disease is largely caused by smoking, accounting for approximately 72% of cases according to the NHS. There are approximately 35,100 lung cancer deaths in the UK every year according to Cancer Research UK.
That said, historic asbestos exposure is also a prominent source from which this disease can develop. When smoking and exposure to asbestos are combined, the risk of developing lung cancer is multiplied for any individual. Our specialist Asbestos Team at Hodge Jones & Allen can make links between a high level of occupational asbestos exposure to the development of lung cancer in many cases, due to many decades of experience of dealing with these cases.
Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition caused by long-term exposure to asbestos fibres. There is no cure for this condition as the damage caused to the lungs by the fibres is irreversible, although rehab treatment and oxygen therapy can help to manage symptoms.
Individuals diagnosed with asbestosis also carry a higher risk of their condition worsening, or of developing lung cancer or mesothelioma. The potential future risks of being exposed historically to asbestos dust, are serious. Our specialist Asbestos Team will ensure anyone with asbestosis is legally protected in respect of the risks of other disease and for future care and treatment.
Diffuse Pleural Thickening
Diffuse pleural thickening is a benign asbestos-related condition that occurs where widespread scarring thickens large parts of the pleural membrane (lining in the lungs and chest wall). This often results in an impairment of lung function and can be a debilitating condition if the disorder worsens.
The main cause of pleural thickening is exposure to and inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres; other causes can include pneumonia, injury to the ribs and tuberculosis.
Awareness and preventing Exposure
Even though advanced research and clinical trials are ever closer to finding a cure for asbestos-related cancers and enhanced treatment for chronic conditions, it is widely considered that prevention remains the only cure. In fact, this is the message proudly promoted by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization during Global Asbestos Awareness Week; and remains at the forefront of Hodge Jones & Allen’s cause to fight for what’s right.
In celebrating Global Asbestos Awareness Week, for those who are sadly suffering the devastating effects of exposure to this toxic material, our specialist Asbestos team can obtain justice, compensation and treatment funding for these illnesses caused by asbestos exposure which were entirely preventable. We look forward to the day when asbestos-related deaths are a thing of the past.
“Asbestos: One word. One Week. One World” #2022GAAW
If you have been affected by asbestos exposure and require legal advice in relation to seeking compensation, please contact our Asbestos & Mesothelioma Compensation Team on 0808 271 9413 for confidential and expert advice. They treat every client as an individual and strive to take away the worry of a legal claim.