What diseases can asbestos cause?
As asbestos mineral fibres are light, once disturbed, they become airborne. Microscopic, they’ll remain undetected and can be inhaled into the lungs. Here, they can collect and cause a variety of serious and often fatal asbestos-related diseases, such as
- Lung cancer
- Pleural Thickening
Although blue and brown asbestos are believed more harmful than white, they all cause cancer. This called for their ban in the UK and many other countries.
Is asbestos a killer?
The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) attributes asbestos as the UK’s biggest workplace killer with more than 5,000 asbestos-related disease deaths reported every year.
There were 2,544 mesothelioma deaths in 2020 as well as 530 mentioning asbestosis on the death certificate.
Industries using the most ACMs, with workers at most risk of death caused by asbestos exposure, include:
In 2023, the HSE launched the Asbestos and You campaign to increase asbestos awareness among tradespeople in the UK. HSE’s acting head of construction policy sector, Tim Beaumont, said:
“Asbestos can be found in things like Artex, cement boards under eaves, garage roofs, old bath panels, boiler houses and fires and even mortar between bricks can contain asbestos.
“There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure but that’s not to say it can’t be managed safely.
“All tradespeople should make sure they know the basics about identifying asbestos. Before carrying out any construction work, there’s a legal requirement to identify whether asbestos is present and could be disturbed.
“Younger tradespeople need to know the dangers behind asbestos as it could affect them in later life like it is affecting older tradespeople now.”
Craig Evans, UKATA Chief Operating Officer, supports this: “The dangers of asbestos are very real, with over 5,000 people in the UK dying each year from asbestos-related diseases…
“UKATA members are committed to providing high-quality asbestos training, delivered by highly experienced and competent professionals with extensive knowledge and expertise in their field, to help prevent unnecessary exposure and protect the health and wellbeing of all those working in the industry.”
When was asbestos banned in the UK?
Although amphibole has been banned in the UK since 1985 and the importation, supply and use of all asbestos has been banned since 1999, asbestos is still used around the world.
Asia and the Middle East consumed around 1.3 million metric tons of asbestos in 2021. While Central and North America consumed 1,820 metric tons of asbestos the same year.