We won’t let the dust settle

Think the danger from asbestos is a thing of the past?

It isn’t.  Asbestos was used extensively from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s. The importation, supply and use of asbestos was banned in 1999, but it might still be in any building built before 2000.

Some estimates say as many as 1.5 million UK buildings may contain it.

This includes public buildings such as schools and hospitals, which as they age, are increasingly likely to emit harmful asbestos dust and fibres.

Each year as many as 2,700 people in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer where 9/10 cases are caused by exposure to asbestos – meaning the majority could have been avoided through better asbestos management.

Up to 60% of people die in the first year after diagnosis.

We’re concerned that this public health threat is not being taken seriously by the government.

What are we calling for?

We’re calling time on asbestos. Based on recommendations made last year by the Work and Pensions Committee, we’re asking the government for a central register so that we know where all the asbestos is and in what condition it is.
We’re also asking them to set a timeframe for the safe removal of Asbestos, prioritising the high risk settings such as schools and hospitals.
The clock is ticking.

Commenting on the government’s response to the asbestos removal petition, Liz Darlison, Chief Executive of Mesothelioma UK said:

“Mesothelioma UK will not be deterred by the government’s response to the petition. The charity is loyal and steadfast in its commitment to give voice to those thousands of families affected by the avoidable, incurable asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. It beggars belief that in 2023, the UK has the highest rate of this avoidable industrial cancer.

“In their response the government said ‘we will continue to consider how we can improve the system to minimise the risk of exposure to asbestos’ but they also said ‘the Government could only advocate more proactive removal of asbestos from buildings if there is compelling evidence that the increase in exposure for workers removing asbestos is justified in terms of reduced risk to building users. At present, the evidence is not there’.

“Why are the Mesothelioma UK nursing team caring for more and more people who have had levels of casual exposure working in jobs not associated with asbestos, doctors, nurses, teachers, armed forces personnel?  We invite the government to come and work alongside our NHS nursing team, come and meet those people living with mesothelioma, hard working and completely naïve to the dangers lurking in their workplace. Workplaces that have passed their asbestos survey and deemed safe, casually and covertly exposing innocent people.

“If the evidence isn’t there, the government has a responsibility to fund the research, and prove that doing nothing is the right and safe thing to do.”

A Hard Pill to Swallow

“The reason you’ve got that [mesothelioma] is through lack of management or you’ve breathed it in somewhere you shouldn’t have….that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes.” Helen Bone, 40
Please watch and share our campaign video – no one explains mesothelioma better than those who have been affected by it.

What can you do?

We are calling on the government to commit to a programme of phased removal, we need your help to enact change.

You can help us by:

“It’s not just a rare cancer, it’s a rare cancer that nobody ever needs to get”

– Niamh Rodgers, daughter of Tony who passed away on 1 January 2022

Write to your MP

You can find who your MP is here: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP

This will give you their email address and their office address.

It is always good if you can make the letter or email more personal because it will have more impact.

When an MP can see that you have taken the time to write a personalised and informed letter it shows them that there are people in their constituency that care deeply about an issue. So, your opinions are likely to be taken more seriously as a result.

You can:

  1. Cut and paste the text into your email, include a personal story about asbestos if you have one, or say something that will make it more personal and send the email or
  2. You can send by post: Download the letter, add the office address, MPs name, the date, your own address, and add a personal story on asbestos if you have one, or say something that will make it more personal. Print the letter, sign and send in the post.

Download the template letter here.

(3 minutes)