Asbestos is a substance that was used in lots of industries, including construction, for many years, until it was discovered that inhaling asbestos fibres causes cancer and many other health conditions. Most victims show no symptoms until their health deteriorates quickly, usually decades after exposure. Asbestos is now banned in the UK, but many existing buildings that were constructed before the late 1990s contain asbestos in some form. Around 5,000 people in the UK die of asbestos-related conditions every year, so we want to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos both historically and now, and see how it’s making the news in April 2018.

The Institute of Occupational Health & Safety (IOSH) have released a survey this month, which claims that nearly a quarter of UK construction workers surveyed believe that they have been exposed to asbestos fibres at some point in their career. If the survey results are representative across the entire industry, it could have huge implications on the health and wellbeing of these workers in later life.

The daughter of an asbestos victim who sadly died in 2017 from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, is trying to raise awareness of the substance in her local area, near Norwich, because she knows first-hand the devastating impact that it has on people’s lives. David Spooner, from Sheffield, is thought to have been exposed to asbestos when aged just 19, whilst working as an apprentice. Mr Spooner did not experience symptoms until late 2016, at which point he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which was not treatable, and he passed away just five months later. Mr Spooner’s daughter, Mrs Fretter, commented “You would not want your worst enemy to go through something like that.”

The issue of asbestos in schools does not appear to be going away, with reporting this month on the pressure being put on the authorities to take action sooner rather than later. A 2016 survey of 5,500 UK schools showed that more than four out of five schools were known to contain asbestos and 19% of schools were not fully compliant with asbestos procedures and guidelines. Although asbestos materials are not considered harmful when in a sealed condition, there are risks if the area is disturbed. If this happens, due to anything from extensive renovation work, to ceiling panels being moved by someone attaching decorations or similar, asbestos fibres could be inhaled by anyone within close proximity. Teaching unions are pushing for all asbestos to be removed from schools over the next decade.

Retailer, Claire’s Accessories, has been ordered to destroy their stock of two make-up products being sold in the UK, that have been found to contain small amounts of asbestos. A face blusher set and eye shadow kit were removed from sale in the UK after testing in a Dutch lab in March gave a positive result for the presence of asbestos.

If you, or family member, has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness and would like to find out more about the support that is available and whether you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation, please contact our friendly team .