Lawyers Call For Action In Light of Alarming New Report
A new report suggesting UK children may be exposed to more asbestos than those in other countries should be the cue for action on a substance called the silent killer, say lawyers.
The report by ResPublica, says UK asbestos regulation is so inadequate, that a child can legally be exposed to ten times more of the cancer causing substance as they would be elsewhere.
The think tank report has led experts at Irwin Mitchell to repeat the calls for action they have been making throughout November, to mark the 20th anniversary of the UK ban on white asbestos.
With an estimated six million tonnes of asbestos in the UK, (including 94% in NHS Trusts and 80% in schools) specialists at the firm say not enough is being done to protect health workers, teachers and children from the risk of secondary exposure to asbestos.
More than 200 teachers have died in the last 10 years as a result of asbestos exposure and reports suggest that for each teacher affected, nine ex-pupils can be expected to fall victim.
ResPublica argues that requirements for the management of asbestos in the UK should be tightened to the high international standards practised in Germany, the Netherlands and France.
Experts at Irwin Mitchell suggest such a change of policy in itself may not be enough to forestall a future public health crisis unless steps are taken to remove asbestos from the majority of the nation’s schools, hospitals, and crumbling public buildings.
Expert Opinion“The report’s findings come as no surprise to those familiar with the tragic story of asbestos in the UK, although some may be surprised that our standards fall so far short of other developed nations.
Children have susceptibility to asbestos at a young age, so the thought that nine pupils for every one teacher could fall victim themselves is beyond comprehension.
Allowing a known toxic substance to sit in hospitals and schools has always been a major cause for concern and the health and teaching professionals and other maintenance workers we have supported over the years prove there is an unresolved problem with asbestos exposure in our public buildings.
Given the long latency period of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer, it may be many more years before we know just how lethal this secondary exposure may prove to be in terms of human suffering.
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure and, if this report is to be believed, we have to rethink the current policy of asbestos remaining in situ in public buildings. Do nothing and the exposure of our children to asbestos today, may prove the big public health scandal of tomorrow.” Adrian Budgen - Partner
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