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Some could be more at risk from exposure to asbestos


Sir, The news last week that several teachers and their relatives in the north-east are suing their local councils because of exposure to asbestos - including the family of one lady who died as a result of putting drawing pins into asbestos walls - should have raised some important questions for the construction industry.

Why is it that none of the schoolchildren - who presumably should have been much more at risk - have shown any similar signs?

The poor lady had taught at the school in question for five years - the same amount of time as pupils would have taken to pass through. Hundreds of children must have been exposed to the same degree of r isk.

This suggests that a few individuals are highly sensitive to asbestos fibres, while the majority are not.

Perhaps instead of the current attempts at blanket safety on all levels of asbestos, we should be devoting a substantially larger effort into research to determine if a few individuals are at much greater risks when exposed to very low levels.

This could then lead to a proper screening of all those involved in removing asbestos or working within buildings where captive material remains.

The result would be a much reduced set of controls, but carried out by individuals identified as being potentially 'resistant' rather than the present lottery, where we might find in 30 years that some who were highly susceptible have been employed in the asbestos removal industry.

As with many aspects of safety, it is time that intelligent thought replaced blanket ignorance.

Chris Mills Survey Control Services Rowlands Gill Tyne and Wear