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Fentons issues asbestos warning to mark Action Mesothelioma Day
Residents across the UK are being warned of the potentially deadly dust dangers of DIY as part of this year's Action Mesothelioma Day (Friday, 2 July).
Although asbestos - known as 'the silent killer' - has long been associated with industrial illnesses, the British Lung Foundation's annual campaign is this year highlighting the risks also faced by homeowners who do DIY in properties built from the 1950s to the 1980s.
"Mesothelioma is a dreadful, cruel and painful disease which is caused by exposure to asbestos," said Bridget Collier, an industrial disease specialist with Manchester-based Fentons Solicitors LLP, sponsors of Action Mesothelioma Day. "It kills one person every five hours in the UK, and the rising number of deaths is linked to the use of asbestos up until the mid 1980s."
Bridget, who for many years has seen first-hand the devastating effects mesothelioma has on victims, said the terminal chest cancer could develop between 15 and 60 years after being exposed to asbestos.
"Although the devastating legacy of asbestos use in industry is now widely recognised, recent statistics showed that only six per cent of people actually knew what mesothelioma is, or how it was caused," she said. "Action Mesothelioma Day is being used to raise awareness of this terrible disease, and remind people of the dangers of asbestos - particularly within their own home."
Bridget said there was a common misconception that asbestos is a thing of the past and only affects workers in heavy industry, but she said many people could still be at risk today. "Many homes built from the fifties through to the mid-eighties could contain asbestos," she said.
"Boiler and pipe lagging, insulation, floors and boarding - there are many different ways asbestos was used in building houses," she said. "Astonishingly, asbestos was being used in some cement products up until as recently as 1999."
Bridget said the focus of Action Mesothelioma Day 2010 was to warn homeowners who did DIY in their properties to take extra care. "Many DIY enthusiasts think nothing of ripping up a few boards here, or knocking through a wall there," she said. "The warning is simply to check everything carefully before disturbing potentially deadly asbestos dust."
Television DIY expert Craig Phillips - who was the first winner of Big Brother - is helping to highlight the dangers of asbestos this Action Mesothelioma Day. Craig, whose uncle suffers from an asbestos-related disease, has unveiled a list of potentially hazardous things to watch out for in the home when doing DIY.
"We hope that having someone as popular as Craig to help spread the message will really help drive it home," said Bridget. "It can take several years after exposure to asbestos before any related disease becomes apparent, and many people who are diagnosed often came into contact with asbestos many years ago and didn't even realise," she said. "It is vitally important to be vigilant now."
Action Mesothelioma Day takes place on Friday, 2 July 2010. For more information, please visit the British Lung Foundation website at www.lunguk.org, or contact the BLF telephone helpline on 0845 850 5020.
TEN TIPS ON BEING ASBESTOS AWARE IN THE HOME
1. Asbestos containing materials in good condition are not a health risk and should be left alone
2. Never sand, drill or saw objects which may contain asbestos such as textured ceiling coatings, floor tiles or asbestos cement roofs
3. Common places where asbestos could be found include floor tiles, toilet cisterns, textured ceiling coatings, asbestos cement roofs, soffit boards and linings of boiler cupboards
4. Always seek professional advice from your local authority or an accredited asbestos removal company before thinking of removing asbestos materials
5. Always make sure you have the correct personal protection equipment including:
- Properly fitted mask to the standards EN149 (type FFP3) or EN1827 (type FMP3)
- Overalls and boot covers - most home improvement stores will stock these
- If you are doing DIY in your own clothes, remove them carefully to avoid excess dust and wash straight away, separately from other clothing, in a washing machine. Make sureyou use a mask whilst dealing with them
6. If you are working with asbestos materials always dampen down the surface to avoid producing dust
7. Don't smoke, eat or drink in the work area
8. If you disturb asbestos do not use a domestic vacuum cleaner as dust may pass through the filter - hire a special (Class H) industrial vacuum cleaner that complies with British Standards - Look up 'asbestos safety equipment hire' on the internet for where to find one
9. Do not put asbestos waste in the dustbin - seek advice from the council about how to safely dispose of it
10. For more information go to www.lunguk.org or call the British Lung Foundation helpline on 08458 50 50 20.
How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma.
If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.
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