United Kingdom Asbestos Use
During the twentieth century, asbestos use was widespread in the world. The material was popular because it worked well as insulation. Its properties make it highly resilient to extremely hot and cold temperatures. It is cheap to obtain and highly durable. However, asbestos has been found to pose a major health risk. It can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other deadly diseases. In the United Kingdom, the material was used in countless products as far back as the Industrial Revolution.
Despite the widespread use of asbestos, the United Kingdom has issued active bans on the material. It banned blue and brown asbestos in 1985 and white asbestos in 1999. The ban prohibits the creation of any new asbestos products. However, it does not eliminate existing ones. The law instead offers recommendations to monitor those products. The laws in the United Kingdom are similar to those in other countries, including the United States.
Over the past two decades, cases of mesothelioma have increased in the United Kingdom. This is a result of the long use of the product. In 1968, there were 153 cases of mesothelioma reported. However, in 2006 a total of 2,056 people died from the disease. Studies say that there will be 2,500 mesothelioma deaths a year by 2015. Part of the reason is the long latency period of the disease. Mesothelioma can take decades to show signs.
Workers at Risk
There were many industries in the United Kingdom where people were exposed to asbestos. Shipyard workers, Navy members, dockworkers, boilermakers, carpenters, roofers, plumbers, carpenters, and railroad workers are among the most vulnerable people. The use of asbestos was most common in shipyards, where many workers were exposed.
Since the United Kingdom issued bans on the material, workers have not been at a high risk of exposure. However, asbestos use only ended in the 1990s. That means many workers who were exposed may not be aware they have the disease yet. As the years progress, the number of reported cases is likely to increase. Because the disease teaks so long to diagnose, the prognosis is grim. That is the major reason behind the high fatality rate associated with the diseases. As more cases are diagnosed, the annual death rates figure is expected to increase. The United Kingdom has been active in limiting asbestos exposure. However, there is still a great deal of research needed to diagnose and treat the disease in the early stages.