Andy Street, the West Midlands Mayor, will be joining supporters of the West Midlands charity, Asbestos Support Central England, for an event on Action Mesothelioma Day, Friday 7th July, at the Priory Rooms in Bull Street Birmingham. The event begins at 1pm but Andy will be calling in at about 3pm and will speak briefly to offer his support to raising awareness about mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lungs or peritoneum caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos Support Central England offers help and advice to about 220 people each year who have been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease. These are always life changing. Mesothelioma is a terminal illness and it affects 55% of our service users.
How many people are affected in the West Midlands?
Of the 129 mesothelioma patients who were helped by Asbestos Support Central England last year, around 85 will have been constituents of Andy Street. A further 70 of his constituents will have been diagnosed with asbestosis and pleural thickening, two other diseases caused by asbestos, and by asbestos related lung cancer.
The vast majority of these cases will have been caused by exposure to hazardous building materials containing asbestos. Many of those affected will have been construction workers and tradespeople, but a growing proportion are people who simply used buildings constructed from asbestos. As the asbestos begins to deteriorate over time it becomes ever more lethal, so the death toll includes nurses, doctors, teachers, classroom assistants and office workers.
Putting the numbers in perspective
Neil Bishop, the manager of Asbestos Support Central England, said, “To put the numbers into perspective, 72 people died and 70 were injured in the Grenfell Tower disaster, which was also caused by hazardous building materials. In the mayor’s constituency alone we know that a similar number of people are killed by asbestos each year. And that’s the people who come to us for help. There are others who are never diagnosed or don’t seek our advice. So the number is actually munch greater.”
Action Mesothelioma Day
Action Mesothelioma Day is a nationwide event started to draw attention to this on-going epidemic. Asbestos has the potential to affect almost everyone who uses a public building, or a house, that was constructed between 1950 and 1985, when the use of asbestos in the construction industry was at its highest.
Andy’s message to our supporters
Andy Street said, “ I am pleased to be able to support people who have been impacted by asbestos, not just the patients themselves but also their carers, friends and family. I note that the Parliamentary Committee for Work and Pensions has recommended the removal of asbestos from all publicly owned buildings within forty years. We are looking at how this recommendation could be implemented across the West Midlands and what policies we would need the government to implement in order to make this a realistic goal.”