Asbestos related conditions are usually caused by exposure to asbestos at work, whether it be direct exposure suffered by the worker themselves, or secondary exposure from workers taking asbestos home on their clothes, subsequently affecting family members. A great deal of people have also been unlucky enough to develop various asbestos related conditions as a result of living near to asbestos factories. This is known as “environmental exposure” to asbestos. Now, there is a new potential group of sufferers, namely, urban explorers.
Urban exploration or urbex is a hobby which involves people exploring abandoned buildings. Although not always the case, this can involve trespassing.
As many of the abandoned buildings lie derelict and in a poor state of repair there are inherent dangers in urban exploration, with unsafe floors and broken glass being present at the sites. There may also be hidden dangers, such as asbestos.
Asbestos is not a danger unless it is disturbed, allowing the fibres to be inhaled and so simply walking into a building which contains asbestos isn’t necessarily dangerous. However, as the buildings are derelict, often any asbestos present may be in a poor state of repair, presenting a potential risk to health.
It is not always easy to identify asbestos materials and the fibres themselves can be so small that in a dark, boarded up room they are unlikely to be seen.
While many urban explorers do take precautions, we have observed some disturbing comments on forums. One person who posted on a website www.28dayslater.co.uk, advised fellow explorers that; “white [asbestos] is no more harmful than any other kind of fibrous dust.” This is extremely worrying as although blue and brown asbestos are the more dangerous types, even minimal exposure to white asbestos puts a person at risk of developing the incurable asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is the most devastating of all asbestos related conditions. It is a cancer which affects the lining of the body’s organs and currently there is no cure. As with other asbestos conditions, mesothelioma has a long latency period and takes between 10 and 50 years after exposure to asbestos to affect sufferers. Sadly, after diagnosis of mesothelioma the prognosis is bleak, with patients only surviving between 6 and 18 months on average.
Apart from the health risks of urban exploring, there are also legal issues as trespassing may be involved. This would cause problems if someone were to go on to develop an asbestos condition. As urban explorers are not employees of the companies that own the buildings, occupier’s liability insurance would have to be traced, which could prove most difficult.
Additionally, if explorers had broken in or scaled fences to get into sites, it could be said that they were there illegally and potentially no asbestos compensation could be recovered.
If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos 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.