Asbestos Related Diseases
Asbestos can easily be inhaled if disturbed, or if an asbestos containing material is in poor condition, as the material readily divides into microscopic fibres which can be dispersed on air currents.
Unfortunately, all forms of asbestos have the capability of causing fatal and incurable diseases including mesothelioma (a cancer of the lung lining), lung cancer and asbestosis (a fibrosis of the lung tissue). A number of other diseases such as pleural plaques, nasal cancer and pleural thickening are also associated with asbestos exposure. There is usually a long latency period from exposure until symptoms of the disease appear – typically 10 to 40 years.
The Health and Safety Executive estimates that previous exposure to asbestos currently leads to some 5,000 deaths annually in the UK.
The table below shows the increase in asbestos-related deaths and industrial injury disablement benefit cases to 2017. The projected future number of deaths is also shown (courtesy HSE). On 1st July 2020 the HSE released their annual Workplace Fatality Figures for 2019/20 - "The asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma is one of the few examples where deaths due to an occupational disease can be counted directly. There were 2,446 such deaths in GB in 2018 - see www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/asbestos-related-disease.pdf "
The 2017 statistics reported 2,526 deaths.