Asbestos exposure is one of the leading causes of work-related fatalities in the industrialized world, and deaths linked to Asbestos exposure continue to rise globally. In the United States alone, Asbestos -related deaths have increased 400 percent in the past 20 years. In response to this alarming trend, several organizations have in recent years launched asbestos and mesothelioma awareness campaigns to educate people about the catastrophic effects of Asbestos exposure and provide them with ways to reduce their risk of developing mesothelioma. These programs play an extremely important role because usually mesothelioma symptoms first appear many years after the exposure took place.
The Hidden Killer Campaign
In October 2008, the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched a national campaign, “Asbestos: The Hidden Killer,” in an attempt to increase public awareness of asbestos exposure and malignant mesothelioma. The campaign, which lasts through November, is a multimedia program that will educate tradesmen about the prevalence of asbestos in construction jobs, as well as its adverse health effects. It is fully supported by the Federation of Master Builders, who is hosting its own educational workshops for workers at risk for exposure. Renowned soccer player Ian Wright will serve as the spokesman for The Hidden Killer campaign.
Almost 4,000 people die each year in the U.K. due to asbestos-related diseases. This accounts for almost 20 tradesmen deaths each week. Many of these fatalities are attributable to insufficient education about asbestos exposure, a problem highlighted by the fact that only 10 percent of tradesmen are aware of asbestos’ deadly effects. Even those who know of the dangers often underestimate the pervasiveness of asbestos in their environments. Because Asbestos was not banned in the U.K. until 1999, buildings constructed or refurbished before 2000 may contain Asbestos , leaving an estimated 500,000 non-domestic buildings at risk.
The cause of a number of ailments and diseases, including the deadly cancer mesothelioma, asbestos has actually been in use for centuries. The name asbestos was given to this mineral by the Ancient Greeks, and the word literally means inextinguishable. The Greeks gave it this name because of its amazing fireproof qualities, although they also noted the harmful effects that asbestos had upon workers.
It was not until the 1900s that the facts regarding the risks involved to workers began to re-emerge. An English physician carried out a post-mortem on a man who had worked with Asbestos for many years, and he found traces of fibres and dust in the man’s lungs. The doctor stated that the man had died due to his exposure to this mineral. Over the next twenty or so years professionals in many countries began to notice the fact that disease, illness and death was uncommonly high amongst Asbestos workers.
In the mid 1920s, an English doctor made the first diagnosis of asbestosis, and this was followed by a study which showed that 25% of English asbestos workers showed signs of a related lung disease. Laws were then stepped up in England to provide better ventilation and more protection to workers who were regularly exposed to asbestos. These steps were slowly followed by other countries over the next decade.
This protection was slow to be implemented and did not prove all that effective. Although asbestos manufacturers and companies that used the mineral were now aware of these studies and the risks involved to workers, they continued to use Asbestos widely, exposing many workers to the hazards associated with it. These employees continued to work with asbestos, totally oblivious of the harm that it was capable of causing. Asbestos continued to be widely used until the mid-seventies, by which time many workers has been exposed and were already unknowingly affected by what we now know as mesothelioma.
Today, as the disease begins to take its toll on the asbestos workers of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, many new cases of the disease are being diagnosed each year. In fact, the number of cases is rising so quickly that many law firms have employed or trained lawyers to deal specifically with these types of cases. The irresponsible companies and manufacturers that were responsible for this exposure have been sued for billions of dollars, with many of them going bankrupt as a result of compensation payouts.
Asbestos is a soft and flexible, which has been widely used for many years for a variety of things. The modern use for this mineral is for insulation, and it has been used in a wide range of items and structures, from ceilings and walls to toasters and hairdryers. This mineral became popular during the industrial revolution as an effective and safe form of insulation – safe in that it was fireproof, but certainly not safe in any other sense. Although the risks involved in using and working with asbestos had been observed several hundred years earlier, these risks were not taken into account when Asbestos became widely used for insulation.
Although the effects of Asbestos have been observed, tested and verified, this mineral is still used today in many places around the world. Although the laws and regulations regarding working with asbestos are far more stringent these days, this doesn’t change the fact that this mineral can cause more harm than good and has claimed many victims from all over the world in the form of the deadly disease mesothelioma.