What should the recent death of a lady with asbestos-linked cancer teach us about asbestos?

Acorn_Lower Service-32

Last year, a Northampton woman died after a short battle with cancer that could have been caused by asbestos. It was an out-of-the-blue illness that was sudden – but could it have been due to asbestos exposure at home or workplace?

Asbestos has serious risks

Forget what you think you know about asbestos. It’s a pretty historic substance, which was once lauded as a versatile, strong and heat-resistant building material, but has been linked to the cause of mesothelioma cancer, lung cancer and asbestosis. The material was used widely in construction and can still be present in buildings built or refurbished before the year 2000. The worrying thing is that it can take up to 50 years for mesothelioma symptoms to develop.

Consider occupations of yourself, friends, and family

The lady who had potential asbestos-linked cancer also worked as a gas pipe fitter, one of many occupations where workers can come into contact with asbestos at some point. The UK Government website has a handy list of occupations where tradesmen might be exposed to asbestos. However, mesothelioma does not just reserve itself for tradesmen and women: the Institute of Cancer Research and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine released a report in 2009 which revealed suffers of the disease were exposed to “environmental asbestos exposure”, meaning the “normal occupation and weathering” of buildings. The reach of asbestos, it seems, is a wide one.

It’s vital to check your property

Because of its wide use in construction – both residential and commercial – it can be found almost anywhere in your property, from decorative ceilings and ceiling tiles, to asbestos cement water tanks and downpipes. Most commonly it was used as “AIB” or “Asbestos Insulating Board”, and can be found in the places around the home where insulation would sit – walls, lofts, and ceilings, and it is even in the Houses of Parliament.

It can be removed from your property by licensed contractors who will safely get rid of the material. These licensed workers are an unfortunate necessity as asbestos shouldn’t be disturbed – this is when it becomes dangerous – and it also has to be handled in a certain way. Different asbestos products also require different types of handling as they pose different levels of risk. For example, asbestos pipe insulation is a lot more dangerous than asbestos cement.

What are the key things to remember?

Asbestos related cancer is responsible for around 5,000 deaths per year. Although asbestos is a dangerous substance, it only becomes a hazard when it’s disturbed. In the ideal world, safe removal of all asbestos would be the best solution, however this is impracticable to do. The cost of asbestos removal and then further reinstatement / replacement of removed items costs can be significate. What should be remembered is that asbestos only becomes a hazard when it’s disturbed. What should be implemented is safe management of the asbestos materials to prevent damage and disturbance. This will include regular condition checks on the materials, adding protection (sealing or over boarding) where required and ensuring people now where the asbestos materials are located.

If you need to help with asbestos in your house or even your place of work, you can contact our team of asbestos specialists by clicking here.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Acorn School Site 26 e1634213147938

School holidays are the perfect time for asbestos surveys

When you think of the upcoming October half-term holiday, asbestos surveys and asbestos-related works might not be the first thing that spring to mind. Fortunately, many schools and colleges wisely choose to use their breaks to get on top of their asbestos issues by organising asbestos surveys or carrying out works which – without the … Read more

Acorn campaign targets asbestos in schools.

Asbestos in schools to be tackled by new Acorn campaign

This week we were proud to launch a hard-hitting campaign targeting the issue of asbestos in schools. If you read our blog last week you will know that more than 20 years after the UK banned the use of asbestos here, it’s estimated that a high percentage of our schools still contain the deadly substance. … Read more

Is the UK ignoring its problem with asbestos in schools?

Is the UK ignoring its problem with asbestos in schools?

Did you know that the UK has a significant problem with asbestos in schools? More than two decades since the use of asbestos was banned in the UK, it’s estimated that eight out of 10 of our schools still contain the deadly substance. Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was used frequently by our construction industry, … Read more

National Mesothelioma Awareness Day c5810986 e1632385966395

Raising awareness about mesothelioma

This Sunday, Americans, their federal departments and agencies and their media are being called upon to observe the annual US National Mesothelioma Awareness Day with ceremonies and activities. Back in 2010, September 26 was earmarked by the US Congress as a special day to raise the American public’s awareness about mesothelioma and to encourage all … Read more

worker 6544391 1920 e1631783205514

UK house builder becomes first to divert asbestos away from landfill

We’ve heard some fantastic news about asbestos in the UK during the past few days. Leading developer Lovell has become the first UK house builder to actively tackle the challenge of asbestos waste. The firm is collaborating with Wolverhampton-based Thermal Recycling to safely package and convert asbestos waste into a safe and reusable cement substitute. … Read more

road sign 4244285 1920 e1631178843233

Asbestos causes a headache for constructor and neighbouring businesses

Asbestos hit the headlines once again this week when it brought a construction project grinding to a halt, closed off a town centre road and disrupted nearby businesses. The Stoke Sentinel has published an article sharing the frustrations of businesses in Piccadilly Arcade in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, who were unable to access their parking spaces or … Read more

surgery 3034071 1920 e1630572942721

Looking after asbestos will help us all breathe more easily

Many people have lives filled with work and family and 101 other activities that take up our days. So, today we’d like you to do something for us – just pause for a second and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Did you manage to do it? The average person takes … Read more

Acorn Samples 6 e1629960810872

Concerns raised about asbestos on British beach

Most of us love a seaside holiday but sadly one of Britain’s beaches hit the headlines last week for all the wrong reasons. You may remember that back in May we ran a blog on ‘Are holidaymakers in danger of finding asbestos on beaches?’ which highlighted a number of British beaches where asbestos had been … Read more

Acorn Jan 2020 Low Res 49 e1629361953760

Acorn receives the backing of major organisations

At Acorn Analytical Services we are very proud of the wide range of asbestos management and training services that we provide. We are proud to say we’re a fully independent and impartial company and that clients can be confident that the results and recommendations they receive from us will always be in their best interests. … Read more

building plan 354233 1920 e1628755740921

Will planning reform put more people at risk from asbestos?

There have been lots of concerns raised in the national press recently about new planning reforms which mean a wider range of commercial properties can now be converted into flats. The reforms came into force at the beginning of this month in a bid to regenerate city centres which have struggled during the pandemic. However, … Read more