ASBESTOS THE KILLER THAT WON'T STOP; THOUSANDS ARE STILL DYING BECAUSE OF EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS DECADES AFTER IT WAS BANNED.
Byline: ALICE CACHIA
THOUSANDS of people each year continue to die from a cancer caused by asbestos, despite the deadly fibre having been banned decades ago.
Experts are calling the continued deaths a "public health disaster", with 5,586 people killed by mesothelioma between 2011-2015, according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
More than of people mesothelioma worked in trades Mesothelioma is a cancer that generally affects the lungs, and by the time of detection, prognosis is usually poor.
Some 41 per cent of deaths - or 2,317 - were people who worked as skilled tradespeople.
That is likely because asbestos is a fibre that was often used to insulate buildings in the past.
When materials containing asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air and when inhaled they can cause serious illnesses - such as mesothelioma.
40 per cent killed by The ban of asbestos began in 1985 and was completed in 1999, the skilled industry meaning it is now illegal to use the fibre in the construction or refurbishment of any premises - though much of it remains in place.
Cancer Research UK claims the number of mesothelioma cases is expected to rise sharply because of the heavy use of asbestos in the trade industry from the end of the second world war until the mid 1970s.
Liz Darlison, consultant nurse and head of services at Mesothelioma UK, said: "Mesothelioma is a public health disaster with 20 tradespeople dying every week from this preventable disease, and the UK has the highest incidence in the world.
"There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and we need a long term plan to rid our society of this cancer-causing product."
Of the 2,317 tradespeople who died from mesothelioma over the last few years, more than half were those who had worked in construction and building (1,305).
A further 840 had worked in metal and electric jobs, while 49 worked in agriculture.
Some 123 had worked in other jobs in the trades sector.
A spokesperson for HSE said: "Asbestoscontaining materials that are still in place in buildings may be disturbed through maintenance and The HSE guidance working proximity ASBESTOS refurbishment work and can present a risk to tradespeople.
"Such work activity today is covered by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, which include requirements for employers to identify the presence of asbestos before work starts, put in place measures to eliminate or minimise exposure of workers to asbestos, provide protective equipment and suitable training.
"Higher risk activities involving asbestos - such as building demolition and large-scale asbestos removal - can only be done by licensed contractors."
has online for those in close with
The HSE has online guidance for those working in close proximity with asbestos
More than 40 per cent of people killed by mesothelioma worked in the skilled trades industry