National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases

Experienced asbestos lawyers Oliver & Co support the establishment of a National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases in the United Kingdom

Asbestos has been used for thousands of years throughout the world, long being known for its fire and friction resistant qualities. However, it was not until the 20th Century that the debilitating effects of asbestos on the human body were appreciated and regulations were introduced.

By the mid 20th century asbestos was being used throughout the world in products such as bricks, pipes, flooring and insulation. During World War II thousands of tons of asbestos were used in war ships as insulation for pipes, turbines, engines and boilers. It was not until 1999 that importation and use of all asbestos in the United Kingdom was banned.

Today we are faced with an epidemic of people being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, due to exposure to asbestos.  Plumbers, electricians and shipbuilders are to name a few of the tradesmen who have experienced exposure to asbestos and are at risk of developing an asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis lung cancer.

Malignant mesothelioma, the most severe of asbestos-related diseases, can take 30-40 years to develop from exposure. It is predicted that the annual number of mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain is estimated to peak somewhere between 1950 and 2450 deaths, sometime between 2011 and 2015.

Other concerning asbestos statistics:

  • “Six people die from mesothelioma each day”
  • “Average life expectancy is approximately 9 months”.
  • “At least 70,000 people who have already been exposed to asbestos in the UK will die from mesothelioma”
  • “More people die each year from mesothelioma than from road traffic accidents”

There is an urgent need to establish a National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases, in order to research effective treatments for asbestos-related conditions, in particular malignant mesothelioma.

The UK was a leader in asbestos products, and consequently has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world. Worryingly, asbestos is still mined in Russia, China, Canada and Zimbabwe and remains to be used in other countries. There is therefore a need to increase awareness and knowledge, another objective of the National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases.

According to figures, the UK and Australia have the highest internationally reported incidence rates (30 per million) for mesothelioma. Unlike the UK, Australia’s Government has given $6.2 million to fund a National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases.

The NCARD Strategy Document has recently been published, detailing the rationale and infrastructure of the proposed Centre. The document highlights the aims and objectives of the NCARD, and it is noted in the Executive Summary that the proposed structure and function of NCARD are that;

  • (1) NCARD will be a virtual centre, a network linking the best UK researchers together and with others from around the world.
  • (2) NCARD will act as a focal point for the attraction of significant dedicated funds”.

The Strategy Document highlights the significant need to increase research and funding in the UK into asbestos-related diseases, with the need  to particularly develop more effective treatments for malignant mesothelioma.

On the 3rd November 2009 the Asbestos Sub-Committee of the All Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health met up to discuss various asbestos-related issues. On the agenda was NCARD, and MPs were told that it is “moving forward” and “progressing quite rapidly”.

Oliver & Co Solicitors will continue to monitor the situation and update interested parties in the monthly newsletter.

Oliver and Co Solicitors are a specialist team of solicitors dealing with asbestos related diseases. We act for clients all over the UK and overseas.  Anyone requiring advice on the potential to pursue an asbestos related disease claim should not hesitate to contact us for free legal advice without obligation on 0800 058 2737.