Between 2000 and 2010, mesothlioma fatality had risen to 2,347.

Together, mesothelioma and asbestosis have been responsible for the deaths of more than 60,000 victims of asbestos exposure in Britain in the first 13 years of the 21st century, according to official government data.

Speaking in the House of Lords in May 2013, Lord Freud, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions, said, “We expect there to be roughly 28,000 deaths from mesothelioma between July 2012 and March 2024.”

Mesothelioma deaths increase

Contrary to those who would have everyone believe that the risk from asbestos exposure is greatly exaggerated, figures confirm that the number of UK deaths from mesothelioma has increased by 14 per cent since 2006. It’s no coincidence that the number of asbestosis claim cases has also risen – more than doubling from nearly 600 in 2007 to just over 1,160 in 2010.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 1994 and 2008 “the UK had the highest age-adjusted mesothelioma mortality rate, at 17.8 per million, followed by Australia, at 16.5 per million, and Italy, at 10.3 per million.” During the same period, there were 13,517 UK deaths from mesothelioma followed by the US, at 17,062.

Rising UK Asbestos imports

Despite of increasing medical evidence and asbestos awareness of the long term health risks, asbestos continued to be used in around 3,000 industrial and commercially available products as an inexpensive heat insulator and fire-retardant material.

Until 1999 when all asbestos fibre use was finally prohibited, it has been estimated that from 1940 onwards, a total of 5.3 million tonnes of brown, blue and white asbestos had been imported into the UK.

In 1960, a total of 169,545 tonnes was imported, which rose to 183,100 tonnes in 1973. Many of the men and women working in asbestos-using industries in the North of England factories, manufacturing workshops and shipyards during the “peak period” are the continuing tragic legacy of unlimited, widespread use.

Although total asbestos imports had reduced to 116,700 tonnes by 1979, there were still 37,640 tonnes of white asbestos still being imported when brown and blue asbestos was finally banned in 1985.

White asbestos fibres were commonly used in construction industry products, such as wall board, cement, roof tiles and textured surface coatings. In 1994 – just five years before a ban was imposed – there was a total of 11,467 tonnes of white asbestos imported. Even in 1998 – the last year of recorded import – 1,840 tonnes was still arriving into the UK.

Thousands of innocent victims

Consequently, there are still countless thousands of other innocent victims, from teachers to builders, who regularly breathed in asbestos fibre dust in both private and publics buildings constructed with the deadly mineral. In the 21st century, buildings such as schools, hospitals, retail stores and housing estates constructed or renovated up until the 1980s and 90s, are almost certain to contain white asbestos chrysotile.

With around 2,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed every year in the UK, current forecasts estimate that a further 45,000 mesothelioma deaths at least can be expected by 2050.