The Continuing Legacy of Asbestos

It is an all too common misconception that asbestos is an historical problem.  Sadly the extent to which asbestos was used in the last century means that it continues to pose considerable risks to many.

The Health and Safety executive refer to asbestos as “the hidden killer”.  They campaign tirelessly in a bid to tackle ignorance about what they describe as “Britain’s biggest industrial killer”.

As part of their campaign, the HSE has, in partnership with industry, arranged for almost 8000 training hours to be provided during the months of October and November.  The training is free and is aimed at those tradesmen most likely to come across asbestos in the course of their work.  Tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians and joiners will benefit from the training.

The HSE director for long latency health risks, Karen Clayton, said “This training will save lives by helping to tackle ignorance about the risks posed by working with asbestos.  It will help prevent this hidden killer from claiming another generation of British tradesmen”.

Tony Whitson, chair of the Asbestos Victim Support Groups Forum has praised the initiative, commenting “Each day we visit newly diagnosed mesothelioma sufferers who were never warned of the dangers of asbestos at work and who never knew how essential it was to avoid exposure to asbestos”.

It is a sad fact that more than 40,000 people have died from the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma since the 1960s.

The number dying from mesothelioma each year is increasing.  The latest figures show that 2,249 people died from mesothelioma in 2008, an increase of 3% on the figure for 2007.

The rise in mesothelioma deaths is not just a UK concern but also a global issue.

One striking example of the continued danger is the risk posed by the World Trade Center disaster of September 2001.  The New England Journal of Medicine has published research into the effects on the health of the rescue workers involved on 9/11.

Thousands of people were subjected to significant dust inhalation at the time of the disaster.  The dust contained a myriad of building materials and chemical by-products of combustion.  It included lead, mercury and asbestos.

Research commissioned in relation to the New York Fire Department rescue workers a year after the attacks demonstrated a significant decline in lung function.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act now provides a compensation fund for sufferers of a wide range of respiratory diseases.  The Act is named after Detective James Zadroga who died in 2006.  A post mortem following his death confirmed that his death was directly linked to 9/11.  Having spent considerable time working in the area in the aftermath of the attack, Detective Zadroga developed a persistent cough and eventually required oxygen to assist him with breathing.

Unfortunately, the authorities do not accept the links between 9/11 and cancer and, therefore, the Act is yet to cover malignant conditions.

As we know the latency period between exposure to asbestos and the onset of respiratory or other symptoms can be anywhere between 10 and 50 years.  Only time will tell how more devastating the effects of the 9/11 attacks will be.

Anyone looking to obtain advice on the potential to claim asbestos related compensation should not hesitate to contact Quality Solicitors Oliver & Co. We specialise in dealing with claims for compensation for mesothelioma, pleural thickening, asbestos related lung cancer and asbestosis.