October 9, 2014

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Asbestos: Saving lives through prevention

While promising research continues, prevention for asbestos-related diseases remains the only cure.

In the UK, exposure to asbestos caused more than 4,700 deaths in 2011. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported, “1.3 million tradespeople are at risk from dangers of asbestos”. The World Health Organizationestimates, more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from occupational exposures. One in every three deaths from occupational cancer is estimated to be caused by asbestos.”

Figures are expected to continue to rise for the next four years, and some sufferers are only now receiving full compensation.

October is Health Literacy Month in the US, and at the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), that means saving lives through prevention.

Knowing the risks
Occupations with a high risk of asbestos exposure include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Workers involved in the manufacture of asbestos products
  • Asbestos mining and milling
  • Construction trades (including insulators, sheet metal workers, electricians, plumbers, pipe fitters, and carpenters)
  • Power plant workers
  • Boilermakers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Firefighters
  • Teachers
  • Veterans

Diseases caused by the material occurs 10–50 years after exposure. You could show symptoms as an adult if you were exposed as a child by a parent who came home with asbestos dust on his or her clothing.

Early symptoms are generally vague and can be confused with other illnesses, such as pneumonia.

If you are concerned that you might be experiencing any of the symptoms, talk to your doctor about possible occupational or environmental asbestos exposure.

Warning signs
According to the National Cancer Institute, you should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • A persistent cough that gets worse over time
  • Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from the lungs
  • Pain or tightening in the chest
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling of the neck or face
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue or anemia

Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer caused by asbestos exposure, which is also linked to asbestosis, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.

The above symptom list is from the National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet “Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk.”

Dedicated to prevention, the 11th Annual Asbestos Awareness Conference, April 17-19, 2015 will take place again in Washington, D.C., where renowned experts, global activists, scientists, and doctors will discuss the latest advancements in disease prevention, global advocacy, and treatment for mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases.

For support within the UK, visit the Mesothelioma UK, Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, or the British Lung Foundation

Linda Reinstein, President/CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation (ADAO) and regular SHP blogger.


Previous SHP Blogs:

June: Asbestos: Prevention Remains the Only Cure  http://ow.ly/Clu5L

July: Asbestos Scare in U.S. Capitol is a reminder of America’s failure to act http://ow.ly/Clu0R

September: Asbestos and Mesothelioma Awareness are Circling the Globe by Linda Reinstein http://ow.ly/Clu9S

Coronavirus advice for employers

This hub page complies all the latest government coronavirus updates. It includes what you can and cannot do in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, workplace advice from multiple sources, including information on welcoming staff back to the workplace and the latest vaccination information.

It also contains a host of useful external links and resources to find further information.


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7 years ago

Great article, very informative.
Asbestos is a huge issue and is still in many materials in buildings.