Asbestos was widely used in the United Kingdom up until the middle of the 1980s. Tragically, it had a reputation as a "miracle mineral" due to its heat resistance and insulation properties. It was so popular that there were few aspects of life asbestos did not touch – it was used in ship building, plumbing, brake pad making, and in the construction of schools, businesses, council buildings as well as houses.
In fact, asbestos was so prevalent that any property built or renovated before the year 2000 could still contain it.
Sadly, asbestos is deadly. When it is disturbed, it releases thousands of tiny airborne fibres into the air which can be inhaled into the lungs. As a result, this can lead to conditions such as mesothelioma – although it may take as long as several decades for symptoms to become apparent.
Mesothelioma is a fatal type of cancer, which affects approximately 2,000 UK citizens annually – it is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos and in most cases proves terminal within three years of diagnosis.
Although asbestos use and importation in the UK was prohibited in 1999, the legacy of its widespread use is still being felt by thousands of families today – a situation which is likely to continue until at least 2030. But the reality is that unless meticulous steps are taken to improve safety, many individuals, including children, could continue to suffer exposure. The legacy of asbestos exposure may yet be felt for decades to come.
Child asbestos exposure
A 2013 Committee on Carcinogenicity report suggested that young people who are exposed to asbestos are more likely to develop mesothelioma than adults who suffer similar exposure at the same time. In fact, the increased risk is pronounced – a five-year-old child is five times more likely to develop the cancer than an adult aged 30 or older.
There are factors other than the increased impact of asbestos fibres on infant lung tissue – as mesothelioma has an incubation period of up to sixty years, there is a much wider time frame during which children could become ill. Adults might die of other causes before the damage caused by asbestos becomes apparent.
The Committee's findings are incredibly pertinent – approximately three-quarters of schools in England are reported to have buildings which contain asbestos, and where it is disturbed there is a real danger that children might suffer potentially fatal exposure.
Claim asbestos compensation
If left undisturbed, asbestos is unlikely to pose a threat to human health. However, if through the negligence of another party, you or a close family member have come into contact with asbestos and developed an illness such as mesothelioma, our asbestos solicitors may be able to help you claim compensation.
We specialise in assisting sufferers and their families in receiving full damages. Moreover, we can help achieve settlements for lost earnings, medical expenses, and therapy fees.