Skip to main content

Don’t Let The Dust Settle – campaign progress over one year on

The urgent campaign to create a central register of the dangerous asbestos in our public buildings and plan for its safe removal continues – over one year on from the start of the #Don’tLetTheDustSettle campaign. 

The Campaign

Each year, as many as 2,700 people in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It is estimated that as many as 1.5 million UK buildings still contain asbestos which is at risk of being disturbed and exposing the public to these dangerous fibres. 

Irwin Mitchell reported on this public health threat last year - More Than 4500 Public Buildings Across 20 Of The Largest UK Local Authorities Still Contain Asbestos (

In April 2023, the charity Mesothelioma UK launched their ‘Don’t Let the Dust Settle’ campaign petitioning the government to create a central register of asbestos in public buildings and to set a timeframe for its safe removal. The campaign proposed prioritising asbestos removal in high-risk settings such as schools and hospitals. 

Within 6 months, the petition achieved 10,000 signatures which meant the government had to respond to it. 

The Government Response

The Department for Work and Pensions responded on 28 September 2023 stating that:

“…the Government could only advocate more proactive removal of asbestos from buildings if there is compelling evidence that the increase in exposure for workers removing asbestos is justified in terms of reduced risk to building users. At present, the evidence is not there.’

They said that the duty’s imposed by current legislation are appropriate. This legislation places a duty on those who are responsible for the maintenance of non-domestic buildings to assess if asbestos is present, assess its condition, and then draw up a plan which may include removal of the asbestos if it cannot be safely managed.

Finally, the government response states that those responsible for the maintenance of the building need to share information about any asbestos to anyone who is liable to disturb it. 

At the time of the government response, there were national concerns over the use of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in schools. With RAAC being commonly used in school construction during the time asbestos was also commonly used, there are widespread concerns that asbestos that was deemed ‘safe’ could be disturbed by structural defects causing cracks, shifts, or collapses in schools. 

Mesothelioma UK Response

Chief Executive of Mesothelioma UK, Liz Darlison, in turn responded highlighting that their nursing team are dealing with an increasing number of cases of people who were exposed as ‘building users’ such as doctors, nurses, teachers, and armed forces personnel.

Mesothelioma UK have also published their Clearing the Air Report (Other Research and Reports | Mesothelioma UK) which evaluated the economic benefits of the government’s current asbestos removal plan, compared to a rapid removal plan in the settings of schools and hospitals. The report projected that by removing asbestos more rapidly,  there could be economic benefits of up to £11.6 billion over the next 50 years – a further incentive for the government to push ahead to remove asbestos from our buildings and protect people’s health.

More information on the Clearing the Air Report can be found here

The Don’t Let the Dust Settle campaign continues to serve as an important push for more action to be taken, whilst simultaneously helping to spread awareness of the dangers of asbestos, that is thought by some to be an issue of the past. 

Mesothelioma UK are asking the public for help by: 

  • Sending a letter to your local MP
  • Signing up to receive updates about the campaign
  • Finding out more about asbestos and how it can be safely managed – HSE Website
  • Sharing your story with them
  • Donating to support the campaign
  • Download our poster to share in your community (A4 poster | A5 poster


How Can We Help?

Mesothelioma diagnoses for building users, including hospital and school staff, are also becoming more common. Irwin Mitchell have dealt with numerous compensation claims for doctors, nurses, and maintenance workers who have been exposed to asbestos whilst working in hospitals, many who didn’t even realise they had been exposed.

It is important to contact a specialist solicitor should you develop an asbestos related disease as we can assist you in seeking answers, funding life-extending treatment, and provide financial reassurance to you and your family. 

Contact us today for a free initial consultation.