Despite what many may think, asbestos is still a danger to people.
With mesothelioma and other respiratory diseases caused by the substance, it will continue to cause deaths and traumas for so many people.
Although it was banned in Spain in 2002 and completely in the UK in 1999, this doesn’t mean it is no longer present.
In Spain, it is thought that most of the buildings constructed between the 1960s and 1980s contain asbestos. And 80% of UK schools and 94% of UK hospitals still have asbestos in their buildings.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the term used for a group of minerals consisting of microscopic fibres. It was mined for decades to produce insulation, roofing and flooring. This is why it’s still present in so many public buildings.
There are three main types of asbestos: chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos). Chrysolite is the most commonly used type, while amosite exposure typically has a higher risk of developing cancer. Meanwhile, crocidolite has very thin fibres, making them easy to breathe in and get lodged in the lungs.
Countries like Russia, Brazil, China and Kazakhstan are still producing asbestos, according to the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. This means that around the world, people are still being exposed to the deadly mineral through their work.
Who is at risk?
Asbestos can be inhaled and swallowed, meaning that it can cause cancer in the lungs, abdomen and throat. Once ingested, our bodies are typically unable to break these fibres down or get rid of them. This leads to the fibres causing inflammation and genetic changes over time, resulting in cancer.
The majority of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related deaths take place in people who have been exposed to the substance through their work. This means that there are certain professionals who are more at risk than others.
Those who worked – and still do – in the mining of asbestos likely face the highest risk of developing cancer. People in the construction industry are particularly at risk, given that asbestos was used in constructing buildings. Meanwhile, those who have worked in railway engineering, shipbuilding and manufacturing also face a higher risk than most.
It’s important not to forget, however, that those who lived with someone who worked in these industries is also at risk. This is because the fibres can transfer from clothing and bodies, meaning they will then be present in the home.
What to do
When you’ve been affected by an asbestos-related disease, the most important thing to do is to think about your future and how you can make it more comfortable for yourself and your family.
This means that taking legal action can be the most sensible decision. A claim for compensation will help to secure the finances that will help you pay for the most appropriate treatment, as well as anything you may need to improve your quality of life.
It can go some way towards covering any loss of earnings you may experience through not being able to work, as well as any home adaptations of specialist equipment you may need.
We will probably never know the full extent of the deaths and illnesses caused by asbestos. But if it has affected you, it’s not something you need to stay silent about.