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Asbestos Related Illnesses

It’s now nearly 20 years since new asbestos usage was banned in the UK. However, despite rigorous legislation and guidance it remains one of the greatest killers.

There are over 5,000 deaths per year in the UK from asbestos related diseases. Around 20 tradesmen die each week from past exposure. The total number of deaths from asbestos related diseases amount to more than the combined total of deaths from road accidents, crime, fire, workplace accidents and terrorism.

People are still contracting asbestos related illnesses due to uncontrolled exposure to asbestos materials in the workplace, often when carrying out minor works and maintenance.

When asbestos containing materials are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. If the fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases.

Asbestos related diseases often take a long time to develop. They usually go unnoticed without any symptoms becoming apparent for many years. However, at the point when these diseases are diagnosed it is often too late for medical intervention to make any difference. This is why it is important that you protect yourself now.

Asbestos can cause the following fatal and serious diseases:


Mesothelioma is a cancer which affects the lining of the lungs (pleura) and the lining surrounding the lower digestive tract (peritoneum). It is almost exclusively related to asbestos exposure and by the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal.

Asbestos related lung cancer

Asbestos related lung cancer is the same as (looks the same as) lung cancer caused by smoking and other causes. It is estimated that there is around one lung cancer for every mesothelioma death.


Asbestosis is a serious scarring condition of the lung that normally occurs after heavy exposure to asbestos over many years. This condition can cause progressive shortness of breath, and in severe cases can be fatal.

Pleural thickening

Pleural thickening is generally a problem that happens after heavy asbestos exposure. The lining of the lung (pleura) thickens and swells. If this gets worse, the lung itself can be squeezed, and can cause shortness of breath and discomfort in the chest.