In English law there has been found to be no safe level of asbestos however this is distinguished from an employer being found negligent. Depending upon the illness different levels of exposure are required to prove causation.

When we look at lung cancer (without asbestosis being present and where the Claimant smoked) the type of asbestos fibre making up the dust becomes very important.

The Helsinki criteria lists a cumulative exposure of 25fibre/ml years as sufficient to have a causal role in lung cancer.  The English legal burden of ‘on the balance of probabilities’ requires the risk to be at least doubled.  There is controversy about whether the Helsinki figure should be higher if the dust is made up mainly of crysotile fibre.

In a case Shortell v Biscall Construction the evidence of Robin Rudd, an eminent medical expert in asbestos disease, was accepted.  He stated the Helsinki criteria assume that the asbestos will include a mix of fibres including substantial proportion of amphibole, however if the mixture was crysotile/ amphibole was 50/50 he would require an exposure of 40 fibre/ml years to establish a doubling of the risk.  This shows that although crysotile might be less dangerous it can and does kill people.   There is no safe level of exposure to any asbestos dust and precautions should be taken to protect against it.

If you have an asbestos related condition and are thinking of making a legal claim, contact one of our solicitors on 0800 294 3065.