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Prevent asbestos exposure, urges charity

28 June 2021

AHEAD OF Action Mesothelioma Day, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) asks a question: what can you do to prevent lives being ruined by exposure to asbestos?

In Britain, more than 2,500 people die from mesothelioma every year because of past exposure to asbestos.

And, while the deadly material has been banned since 1999, it still lurks in at least half a million buildings constructed before that year, posing huge risks to anyone who comes into contact with it.

On Action Mesothelioma Day (Action Meso Day) this Friday, 2 July, support groups, charities and other organisations and individuals will come together to call for more awareness of the dangers of asbestos.

For the second successive year, the annual event will be held virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

IOSH president Jimmy Quinn said the day is crucial in helping to spread the word and inform people of the risks of asbestos exposure and how they can take steps to protect themselves.

He said, “Action Meso Day is a very important day in the calendar, providing an opportunity to spread the message about how dangerous asbestos really is and that it still poses a risk today.

“Asbestos may be banned from new buildings and people who are currently suffering with cancers like mesothelioma may have been exposed over 20 years ago, but it is still all around us.

“So, the question we are asking today is what can you do to prevent lives being ruined by exposure to asbestos?”

Friday’s virtual event, being held from 12.30pm to 1.30pm (BST), will be introduced by broadcaster, academic and peritoneal mesothelioma patient Kate Williams. She will also host a panel discussion about trials and treatments.

As part of the event, people are being asked to print out a ‘My Action Board’ and write a message on it about how they are taking action to prevent diseases like mesothelioma and then sharing it on the screen.

Delegates will also hear from people who suffer with mesothelioma, including Mavis Nye, who was exposed to asbestos when washing her husband Ray’s work clothes.

She said, “We want people to consider how they can take action to prevent asbestos exposure and the terrible diseases it causes.

“Just because you can’t see asbestos fibres and it doesn’t impact on your life immediately doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. People are still being exposed and we need to do more to prevent this to reduce the awful toll it takes on people’s lives.”

Asbestos is among the carcinogens which have been a focus of IOSH’s No Time to Lose occupational cancer campaign. The Institution has a range of free resources on its campaign website – at www.notimetolose.org.uk – about how to prevent exposure.

IOSH is also calling on people to join the Action Meso event and to share posts on social media channels, using the hashtag #ActionMeso.