A coalition being led by the British Lung Foundation has launched a campaign to inform the British public about the dangers of asbestos in their homes and how exposure to the deadly substance can lead to an aggressive form of lung cancer called mesothelioma.
Research by the British Lung Foundation found that only 6% of people in the UK have heard of the disease yet the deadly cancer kills one person every five hours in the UK and this figure is set to peak over the next decade.
The reason the condition is on the increase is linked to the use of asbestos in the building industry up until the mid 1980’s. The time between exposure to asbestos and developing mesothelioma can range from anywhere between 15 to 60 years, with death usually resulting within two years of diagnosis.
Also, whilst a highly surprising 20% of those surveyed claimed to know someone who was ill or who had died through exposure to asbestos, only 35% were aware that survival times after diagnosis can be less than two years.
However, the number of people carrying out DIY and home improvements is on the increase and this has also sparked fears that people could be exposing themselves to asbestos. This is because asbestos was used as insulation materials in homes built between the 1950’s and 1980’s. Not surprisingly, the survey showed that 90% of people under 25 have never heard of mesothelioma. The British Lung Foundation want to alert people to this potential danger and the precautions they need to take when undertaking building work at home.
Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation said, ‘mesothelioma absolutely destroys the lives of it’s victims and their families. The time between diagnosis and death is extremely short and in the vast majority of cases, people suffer a tortured and agonising death. We would like to encourage more interest in mesothelioma and warn people about the precautions that they should take to avoid exposure to asbestos in their homes.’
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber stated: “Thousands of people who worked with asbestos in the past will unfortunately die prematurely after developing mesothelioma. These people must be given the support, care and treatment they require. At the same time we must prevent any further exposure to asbestos, therefore eradicating the disease.”
“Asbestos is now a banned substance but even so, tonnes and tonnes of the fatal fibre still exist in factories, schools and offices throughout the UK. To prevent thousands more workers being needlessly exposed to asbestos in the future, the TUC has produced new materials to help safety reps alert their bosses and workmates to its potential presence in the workplace and to the dangers it poses.”