It has long been known that asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral widely used in the construction industry, until its ban in the UK in 1999, is hazardous to health. As far back as the Egyptian times it was noted that those working with the substance suffered respiratory problems. The UK is one of the worst affected places in the world for mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by asbestos, and yet funding for research into this insidious disease is lacking.
The UK has the highest mortality rate for mesothelioma in the world, more than double than that of France and more than three times that of the USA.
One in five work related deaths in the UK are due to mesothelioma and in 2013, there were on average more than 7 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each day.
The UK mesothelioma death toll has been increasing since the 1970s and it is predicted that over 2,500 people will die due to mesothelioma in 2018.
The UK research investment fund for mesothelioma equates to just £480, per death. When compared to oral cancer at £1,000 per death and leukaemia at £6,900 per death, it seems that people with mesothelioma are very much short changed when it comes to funding research into treatment.
Indeed, the UK Government has provided little in the way of money and much research has been funded by charities, supported by mesothelioma sufferers and their loved ones. There are currently four national charities in the UK, dedicated solely to the funding of mesothelioma research; The John MacDougall Mesothelioma Trust, The June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund, Mesothelioma UK Research Fund and The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund.
So, why is so little spent on funding mesothelioma research? We can only think it is because many view mesothelioma as a cancer with an expiration date. By that we mean that as asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, the deadly substance and the health problems associated with asbestos exposure are seen as a problem of the past.
Here at Asbestos Justice we would love this to be true. All too often we speak to people who have received the devastating news of a mesothelioma diagnosis, or a family member whose loved one has passed away and it is heart breaking to hear, knowing that their suffering was preventable and that once diagnosed, little could be offered in the way of treatment, to assist in combatting the disease.
Whilst it is true that asbestos is no longer used in the UK, this does not mean it is no longer a danger. Asbestos is still present in a huge number of buildings constructed before the year 2000. Although there are strict regulations in place for any workers who may come into contact with asbestos, this does not stop people being exposed. Each month we read about the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) fining various companies who have allowed employees to be exposed to asbestos. We receive calls each week from someone who has recently come into contact with asbestos at work. It is not just workers who are at risk, we recently read about an incident in a school where cement sheeting containing asbestos was found in a sandpit after being dug up by a child!
Clearly, asbestos and the terrible diseases it causes are not going away for the foreseeable future, so surely we need to ensure adequate funding for mesothelioma research to give those affected a fighting chance of beating this cruel cancer.
If you require assistance in pursuing an mesothelioma claim 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.