Mesothelioma – a form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos – kills twice as many people the UK every year than motor vehicle accidents.

It’s a shocking statistic considering that asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999, and the most dangerous form of asbestos has not been used since the 1960s.

But more people than ever are suffering its effects, and because asbestos is no longer used in construction, it’s devastating effects are rarely thought about – let alone discussed.

This has prompted local personal injury specialists Johnson Law to raise awareness of asbestos exposure, and in particular asbestosis, a lung condition which almost 1,000 people are diagnosed with in the UK each year.

Asbestosis infographic

Despite what you may think, exposure to asbestos is not limited to those in the construction industry. Homes, shops and offices built between the 1930s and 1970s are likely to have asbestos in the insulation, and at one time the material could be found in over 3,000 household appliances.

This means that most of us have unwittingly been around asbestos, and it’s proving a dangerous hangover of our recent industrial past.


Asbestosis is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres. This causes inflammation and scarring of the tissue in the lungs. The condition seriously affects everyday life and any complications can prove fatal, with around 2,000 deaths annually linked to asbestos-related lung cancer.

Symptoms to look out for are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Fatigue
  • Laboured and rapid breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Swollen fingers.

Sadly there is no cure for asbestosis, however there are ways to treat the symptoms and help prevent cancer developing. If you’re diagnosed with asbestosis, your doctor can provide vaccinations to protect your lungs against other infections, and may recommend oxygen therapy which is also known to be beneficial.

While anyone can get asbestosis, certain professions are more strongly associated with asbestos exposure. Insulation workers, plasterers, boiler makers, shipyard workers, sheet metal workers, plumbers, pipefitters, heating and refrigeration mechanics and chemical technicians are all considered at risk.

If you think you may be exposed to asbestos within the workplace it’s vital you raise the issue with your employer. They have a duty to protect your health and safety.

It’s likely to be 2050 before the epidemic of asbestos-related illnesses in the UK comes to an end. Until then, all we can do is educate ourselves on this silent killer.

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  1. Rod Storring says:

    the headline is ill informed!

    1. Could you please elaborate?

Comments are closed.

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