1 February 2018

World Cancer Day – the dangers of asbestos

Ahead of World Cancer Day on 4th February, here’s a reminder about the dangers of asbestos.

Cancer is one of the biggest killers worldwide and Mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos, is the UK’s single biggest industrial killer. The latest HSE statistics show there were 2,542 Mesothelioma deaths in 2015. This figure is projected to remain constant for the next decade before numbers begin to decline.

Past asbestos exposure is the leading cause of death from occupational cancer. Over 5,000 deaths a year can be attributed to asbestos exposure, from either Mesothelioma or other asbestos related lung cancers.

There are over 200 types of cancer and in the UK 54% of all new cases are due to breast, prostate, lung or bowel cancer (2015).

World Cancer Day from Cancer Research UK aims to unite everyone in the fight against cancer, with donations supporting research, doctors and nurses and improving survival rates.

Many asbestos-related diseases take years to develop, so deaths occurring now are largely a result of past workplace conditions. The period of time between exposure and symptoms developing is often referred to as the ‘latency period’.

Asbestos can be found in any building built before the year 2000 which was the last prohibition date for asbestos use in the UK. It can be found in many common building materials including:

  • Loose fill asbestos in ceiling or floor cavity
  • Lagging
  • Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls and beams/columns
  • Asbestos insulating board
  • Floor tiles, textiles and composites
  • Textured coatings
  • Asbestos cement products
  • Roofing felt
  • Rope seals and gaskets

There is no known safe threshold of exposure to asbestos fibres. This means that the inhalation of small quantities, even over a short period, can lead to Mesothelioma, decades after exposure.

Enquin Environmental is a UKAS accredited asbestos consultancy and a UKATA Registered Training Provider. We provide a highly specialised portfolio of asbestos management services to a range of Clients across the UK.


Further information:

Cancer Research UK

HSE National Statistics