Asbestos: Still alive and killing!

Asbestos victims will be unveiling a plaque on Sunday, the 20th Anniversary of the banning of asbestos in the UK, in memory of all those who have died from asbestos related diseases. All asbestos was finally banned by law in 1999 after years of campaigning by victims, the medical profession, academics and trade unions. Registered charities such as the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group formed in 1993 and the main organiser of the unveiling of the plaque, were demanding a ban from its formative years. John Flanagan, Support Officer for the Group said ”A lot of people see the asbestos issue as a problem of the past, this could not be further from the truth.  Groups like ours up and down the country see every day newly diagnosed victims.  There were 2526 new cases of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos in 2017, add to this the conservative estimate of an equal number of people diagnosed with an asbestos related lung cancer plus those with asbestosis and asbestos related pleural thickening the annual figures are well over 5,000 per year”

The Group asked their Honorary President, Mr. Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor for Liverpool to seek assurances from the government that asbestos imports would not be allowed under any new trade deal post Brexit, especially with the US who still use asbestos. Rotheram asked for a “guarantee that any trade deal negotiated with any country, and specifically the USA, does not allow the importation of asbestos, in items containing asbestos – such as automotive parts.” The reply gave the assurance “that there would not be a race to the bottom of standards”.

Chairperson of MAVSG and Retired Occupational Physician Jeff Morgan, said, “Our former Chair, Tony Abbott, got it right when he coined the heading for this event, “Asbestos – Still alive and Killing.

He added “The Danger to the lungs of workers of this “wonder fibre” was first reported in the 1880s by the Lady Factory Inspector, Lucy Deane. Animal tests in the USA during the 1930s revealed that asbestos can cause cancer. It is therefore surprising that a total ban on the import & use of asbestos only came about in Britain as late as 1999. Asbestos is still present & friable in our schools, hospitals, libraries and a range of other public buildings. So, it poses a future serious health risk to pupils, teachers, nurses, librarians & civil servants alike. That is why MAVS is so keen to raise awareness of this persistent and largely unchecked public health issue.”

The Plaque unveiling will be held at the Unite the Union Office in 132 Conway Street Birkenhead, CH41 6JE next door to the Crown Pub on Sunday 24th November at 1.00pm with buffet.

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