Everyone is worried about road traffic accidents. At the back of our minds we always know that our next car journey could be our last, or that we could lose family and friends in a tragic road accident.
Do we have the same anxiety when we go into our place of work, or to school, or to hospital? We should be worried, because many of these places may have asbestos lurking somewhere in their buildings. And exposure to asbestos is far more dangerous than travelling in a car.
How many people die each year from exposure to asbestos compared to deaths on the road?
There are 40% more deaths each year from mesothelioma – a form of cancer that is only caused by asbestos*
There are 180% more deaths from all the asbestos related diseases added together*
It’s hard to work out how dangerous a particular job might be
To make matters worse, the statistics for injuries caused by asbestos in the workplace cut off at age 74. This means that about half of the deaths recorded in each industry or profession are not included when the Health & Safety Executive works out how many people died because of asbestos.
The reason is that older people, who have been retired for a long time, may have been exposed to asbestos a long time ago when fewer precautions were taken. But, because asbestos can take up to sixty years to make people ill, that makes it harder to tell now who is at greatest risk of getting ill in the future.
All of these reasons have convinced us that we need to campaign for zero asbestos in all our buildings, and especially in public buildings and social housing. As well as making our economy carbon neutral and removing other dangerous pollutants from the environment around us, we need to make it asbestos free.
*Based on the UK figures for 2018