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Holiday Misadventure? – Asbestos the Hidden Killer

26 July 2013

Many tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of middle aged and older adults, will as school children and teenagers once have had temporary employment in the school holidays to fund a special purchase, a holiday, spending money or simply to have a taste of the “real world” before either going into full time work, on to University or back to school.

Many of those then teenagers and young adults will have experienced work in schools, hospitals, building sites, power stations, shipyards, factories, the rail industry, food processing plants and in other varied places and locations.

They will have come into contact with joiners, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, boiler makers, shipbuilders, cleaners, laggers, machine setters, foundry operatives and many other skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers.

Sadly, for some that summer job will result in a devastating moment many years later when they are diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer of the mesothelium, a thin membrane that lines the chest and the abdomen. It is a truly horrific disease affecting not only the sufferer, but also their loved ones.

Mesothelioma is known to the Insurance Industry as a “long tail” disease, because it does not develop for a significant period of time post exposure. This is known as the latency period and is the length of time that passes from when the victim was first exposed to asbestos up until the diagnosis is made. The latency period in mesothelioma is typically between 20 to 50 years.

Mesothelioma almost always develops as a result of exposure to asbestos and is 5 times more common in men than women. This is partly explained by the fact that asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the United Kingdom from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s, and also because it was used in other industries which at that time were male dominated.

It is anticipated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) that the death rate from mesothelioma will continue to rise, probably beyond 2016.  Many of those teenagers who, for whatever reason found temporary work in their school holidays during the 60’s and 70’s will be the victims of the hidden time bomb that is asbestos. It doesn’t matter whether in later life those victims went on to become doctors, teachers, nurses, designers or artists, asbestos does not discriminate. Exposure to asbestos no matter where or how it occurred can and does take away the futures of those exposed.

Sadly when mesothelioma strikes there is very little that can be done and the last thing on any victims mind will be compensation. However compensation is sometimes the only way of making sure that family and loved ones have some financial support when the victim’s life comes to an end.


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