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Leicester-based charities fight asbestos cancers

09 July 2018

TWO LEICESTER-based organisations linked by a “devastating industrial tragedy” were brought together on Action Mesothelioma Day 2018 at the city’s cathedral on Friday 6 July.

At Leicester Cathedral, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) supported Mesothelioma UK’s annual Action Mesothelioma Day event where patients, carers, families and local dignitaries will meet for a service of remembrance and hope, to commemorate the thousands of lives lost to asbestos-related cancer.

Mesothelioma claims at least 2,500 lives in the UK every year and Britain persistently has the highest death rates in the world related to this terrible disease. Around 30 times more people now die from the “slow accident” of asbestos-exposure than from accidents at work.

Mesothelioma UK, the national charity for this asbestos-related cancer, and IOSH are connecting in Leicester around the ‘No Time to Lose’ campaign to tackle occupational cancer and prevent future deaths.

Leicester is also home to some of the best medical research into this hard-to-treat disease, so there will be hope that we’re moving closer to better treatment and a cure.

Asbestos fibres cause at least 107,000 deaths worldwide every year – probably many more. Only a third of countries have banned it, and an estimated 125 million people are still exposed every year. This represents a healthcare timebomb in years to come.

IOSH president Craig Foyle said: “This is a devastating slow accident – a disease affecting workers and their families who may have inadvertently breathed in or swallowed asbestos fibres and go on to develop mesothelioma and related cancers decades later.

“Mesothelioma UK does an amazing job providing information and support and we’re glad to be supporting their Action Mesothelioma Day event. The UK has the worst record for this disease, indicating how prolifically the material was used in factories and buildings up to the 1980s and 1990s.

“Although using asbestos in the UK was finally banned in 1999, chances of exposure still surround us today – and some workers are particularly at risk.

“IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign already has support from over 250 companies in the UK and worldwide. We aim to prevent future harm by giving free information and encouraging supporters and our 47,000 members worldwide to share these with colleagues and clients.”

Liz Darlison, head of services at Mesothelioma UK, said: “One thing nurses, patients and their families and friends all have in common is that they want other people to be protected from the dangers of asbestos. That means helping people find out about the risks and precautions, so they avoid coming into contact with it.

“Mesothelioma UK funds and co-ordinates a national network of specialist nurses and provides information about the disease and support, so patients and their families get the best care possible. We also fund research to understand the disease better.

“On Action Mesothelioma Day, we will commemorate people who have died from mesothelioma and support those affected by this devastating industrial tragedy. We will also look to the future, at new forms of treatment and – by supporting No Time to Lose – preventing mesothelioma in future.”

At least half a million buildings still contain asbestos in products including corrugated roofing, spray coatings, lagging, insulating boards, ropes, yarns and cloth. Identifying and removing it or containing it safely must be done with great care by specialist contractors.

IOSH No Time to Lose share free resources that help people likely to stumble across it in construction and other sectors, including joiners, carpenters, plumbers and electricians, but also people doing DIY or working every day in contaminated buildings.