Asbestos is a deadly substance that was formerly used widely in the construction industry, amongst others, before being banned in the UK in 1999. It is thought that millions of homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces and public buildings in the UK still contain asbestos, if they were constructed before the ban. If inhaled, asbestos fibres can cause irreparable damage to the victim’s lungs and respiratory system, but it often takes decades for any symptoms to show. Asbestos exposure can cause a range of health conditions, including an aggressive form of cancer, called mesothelioma, which is often untreatable by the time it is diagnosed, and usually proves fatal. We have compiled a roundup of some of the ways in which asbestos has been making the news in January 2019.
‘Fake’ cigarettes, found and seized in the UK, have been found to contain a number of dangerous substances, including asbestos. These cigarettes are usually packaged in a similar way to well-known brands, but are counterfeit and imported to the UK illegally, costing an estimated £2 billion a year in unpaid duty. Due to the nature of asbestos, and the damage that it can do to the lungs and respiratory system, inhaling from cigarettes that contain this substance could have dire health consequences. To help deter this trade, the Local Government Association is calling for larger fines to be imposed on those found selling these fake cigarettes.
In relation to the ongoing problem of asbestos in our schools, an issue that we have previously raised, the BBC has reported that nearly a quarter of schools in England have not told the government the extent of the asbestos within their buildings, or how they are managing this dangerous substance and keeping children and staff safe from exposure. The Department for Education (DfE) started collecting the data in 2018, but despite extending the deadline several times, only 77% of schools have yet provided the information requested. The deadline has been extended again, until 15th February 2019, to allow the remaining schools to respond, but the Public Accounts Committee has called for those schools to be “named and shamed” for their lack of response to what could give rise to a significant risk to the health of pupils, staff and visitors.
A former carpenter from Burton died as a result of asbestos exposure 50 years ago, a recent inquest heard. Mr Timothy Swift was thought to have been exposed to asbestos between 1967 and 1969 when he worked as a carpenter in the vicinity of others who cut asbestos sheets. However, he did not start to show signs of mesothelioma until the spring of 2018 and sadly died only months later, in November 2018.
It has been alleged that a pile of asbestos waste in Greater Manchester was left unattended and unresolved for a period of six months because two neighbouring councils could not agree on whose responsibility it was. The asbestos waste was dumped by fly-tippers in an area that straddles the boroughs of Bury and Salford and is said to have been first reported to the authorities in August 2018. However, it is alleged that Salford Council insisted that the problem was for Bury Council to resolve, and Bury Council responded by confirming that the waste was in Salford and was therefore not their responsibility. Both councils now state that they have removed any items containing asbestos from the vicinity.
If you, or a loved one, are diagnosed with any kind of asbestos-related illness, it can often come as a total shock. If you are unsure where to go for advice and practical support, we can help.
Here at Dedicated Accident Solicitors, we can offer free initial legal advice if you are thinking of making a compensation claim for asbestos exposure, either for yourself or on behalf of a loved one who has sadly passed away in recent times. We can also help to point you in the right direction for other support services to help after an asbestos-related condition diagnosis. Contact us today through our website or by phone, on 01332 897 222.