Each year on the 5th July we observe Action Mesothelioma Day. This is a day where people who have been affected by mesothelioma come together to pay tribute to people who have lost their battle with the disease and help to raise awareness of the condition.
What causes mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancer which currently has no cure. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos refers to a group of six natural minerals. They comprise of long, thin fibrous crystals. The word asbestos comes from an Ancient Greek word meaning inextinguishable or unquenchable, this relates to the fire retardant quality of the mineral.
Asbestos is a very durable and versatile substance and due to this is was used extensively in the building industry in the UK for decades.
When did the dangers of asbestos become known?
The dangers of asbestos go back as far as the Ancient Greeks. A geographer named Strabo noted that the slaves who worked weaving asbestos cloth suffered with “sickness of the lungs”.
More recently, in the early 1900s it was noted that there were a large number of lung problems and early deaths in people from asbestos-mining towns. The first recorded diagnosis of asbestosis was made in 1924 following the death of Nellie Kershaw, a lady who worked at Turner Brothers Asbestos spinning asbestos yarn. Her post-mortem revealed scarring of the lungs with visible “particles of mineral matter”.
Although some people had started to connect asbestos to lung problems, it wasn’t until October of 1965 that that most companies should have been aware of the dangers of even minimal exposure to asbestos.
Despite this, asbestos continued to be used, although the use did decline in the 1990s until it was eventually banned in the UK until the year 2000. Amazingly, some countries, including the US, still use asbestos to this day.
Are people still being exposed to asbestos now?
Unfortunately, people around the world are still being exposed to asbestos on a daily basis. Asbestos has been banned by 66 nations with a further 10 restricting its use.
You would think that as asbestos was banned in the UK in 2000, there is no longer any danger of being exposed to asbestos here. Unfortunately, this is not the case and any building built before 2000 could contain asbestos.
We hear all too often of companies who have failed to adhere to the asbestos regulations when carrying out demolition or maintenance work and have put their employees and the public at risk of being exposed to asbestos.
When will mesothelioma die out?
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer and thankfully, not many suffer the misfortune of being diagnosed with the condition.
It was initially thought that the number of mesothelioma diagnoses would start to decline in 2016. Sadly, this has not turned out to be the case and it is expected the that the number of deaths due to mesothelioma will continue to hit around 2,500 for the next couple of years before gradually starting to reduce.
Mesothelioma has a latency period of between 10 and 50 years. This means that it can take up to 50 years after the exposure to asbestos before symptoms of mesothelioma begin. We would therefore, frustratingly expect to continue to see people being diagnosed with mesothelioma for another 20 to 30 years, although hopefully at a much reduced rate than it is now.
Action Mesothelioma Day
Here at Asbestos Justice we will be observing a minute’s silence at 11am. We will take this time to think about our clients, past and present, who are currently battling or have lost their fight with this insidious disease.
There are events happening all over the country and if you want to take part you can find details of your local event here.
If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos compensation claim for mesothelioma or for any other asbestos disease then please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.