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Asbestos: the dangers


ASBESTOS is the most serious occupational health issue affecting workers in the UK. Around 3,500 people die every year from asbestos poisoning, which can be in the form of lung cancer, asbestosis, or the fatal mesothelioma.

Most fatalities occur when the dust emanating from the removal of asbestos gets into lungs and causes cancer. In 1968, there were just 153 cases of asbestos poisoning but the HSE is predicting that by 2015 there will be 2,450 cases of mesothelioma alone. In construction, asbestos currently kills over 600 repair and maintenance workers each year.

One person who knows the horrors of asbestos poisoning is Katie Tullet, who was widowed earlier this year after her husband Mark died of mesothelioma at the age of 52, after first becoming exposed to asbestos as a teenager in the 1960s.

She said: 'My husband worked replacing fireplaces that contained blue asbestos, which is very dangerous. His condition lay dormant for years but in the last eight months of his life he was diagnosed with asbestos poisoning and died a painful death.

'Now I work as a health and safety consultant and I know the dangers of all types of asbestos. I don't agree with the proposed change to the regulations.

I believe that the more stringent the regulations, the less people will die.'