Mesothelioma fatality in the UK increased once again in 2012.
Latest figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at the end of October 2012 show that 4,500 people – or 56 per cent of the 8,000 deaths caused by occupational cancer in England and Wales each year – are believed to be related to asbestos exposure.
Previously, the HSE had released figures, which showed that nearly 100 more people died of mesothelioma in 2010 than in 2008. While it is recognised that malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare but fatal incurable cancer accounting for less than 1 per cent of all confirmed diagnoses of the disease, nevertheless, there has been an almost four-fold increase since the early 1980s with 2,347 deaths from mesothelioma in 2010, alone.
In 2011, the Royal Courts of Justice published figures, which showed the number of asbestosis claim cases had more than doubled from 574 in 2007 to 1,164 in 2010,
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UK has the highest mesothelioma mortality rate at nearly 18 deaths per million. Occupational exposure to asbestos remains the highest for males at 80 per cent with those who work in the building industry most at risk. While the most dangerous forms of asbestos, crocidolite (blue asbestos) and amosite (brown asbestos) were banned in 1985 by the UK Asbestos (Prohibition) Regulations, the less toxic but still dangerous chrysotile (white asbestos) continued to be used as a building industry material right up until the end of the 1990s and beyond.
In 2013, asbestos awareness is still crucial to taking preventative measures against the continuing deadly health risks posed by the presence of asbestos-containing materials in properties, such as schools, nurseries, hospitals, residential housing estates, commercial and industrial premises.
Contrary to the claims that risk from asbestos-related disease is over-estimated and mostly now at a low-level, the incidence of men and women falling victim to mesothelioma continues to rise. The estimated total number of deaths from all diseases caused by asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer, could be over 110,000.
The HSE forecast that 5,000 people will die from asbestos exposure each year by 2015 and a further 45,000 mesothelioma deaths can be expected by 2050.