It is known by, governments, healthcare professionals and the general public worldwide that exposure to asbestos can cause numerous harmful diseases such as pleural plaques, pleural thickening, Mesothelioma of the pleura, peritoneal mesothelioma and asbestos induced lung cancer, the latter 3 of which are fatal diseases.
What is not so clearly known however is what sector of society is most susceptible to asbestos. This article will discuss some of the various groups of people who could fall victim to an asbestos related disease and will go some way to showing that asbestos disease is indiscriminate.
The majority of asbestos related disease client’s seen by Boyes Turner tend to be older males, generally 55 years and older, but why?
The best way to answer to this question would be to first explain that asbestos related illnesses are what are known as “long tail diseases”. A long tail disease is one which takes many years to manifest after inhalation of harmful asbestos fibres. Mesothelioma as an example can occur 10 – 15 years after exposure to asbestos, though this is rare and usually will take 30 plus years to manifest after exposure to asbestos.
Returning to the question of why we tend to see more male asbestos victims than female, the answer we believe is because 30 plus years ago (i.e. from 1985 and before) most people working in asbestos related industries were male. Of course now a day’s men and women do work in industry on an equal footing, but in the 1950’s. 60’ 70’s and even the 80’s, heavy industrial and trade roles tended to be held by men and it was these roles which largely led to asbestos exposure.
Females however are also sadly the regular victims to asbestos related diseases.
Whilst most industrial and trade roles were held by males, females did of course come in to regular contact with asbestos when working in trade or heavy industrial trade roles.
Females also regularly came in to asbestos exposure when laundering their husband’s work clothes.
Many females also came in to regular contact with asbestos when working in commercial or public buildings constructed from asbestos, such as school buildings.
Many children have been exposed to asbestos either when socialising with family members wearing asbestos ridden work clothes, when at school, when playing with asbestos at local asbestos dumps or when using facilities constructed from asbestos such as playground equipment.
Peter Olszewski, an Associate Solicitor at Boyes Turner has sadly met a 13 year old girl who has been been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Many home owners have also been exposed to asbestos when carrying out simple DIY in their homes as their homes have asbestos within their construction.
Asbestos diseases picked up from the home can affect men, women or children and in fact, even pets such as dogs can suffer from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.
The general public
The general public can be exposed to asbestos in numerous ways such as when travelling on the London Underground, when living in the vicinity of dedicated asbestos factories, when visiting commercial or public buildings with asbestos in them or when passing constructions sites using asbestos as a construction material.
This form of asbestos exposure again affects men, women and children.
Members of the armed forces
Many members of the armed forces have been subjected to copious amounts of asbestos dust whilst on duty.
Asbestos in the armed forces has affected males, females, junior non-commissioned ranks and senior commissioned officers.
Public sector workers
Public sector workers have also suffered asbestos exposure in the past.
Boyes Turner have acted for policemen, firemen, paramedics and doctors that have been exposed to asbestos when responding to emergencies.
Many hospitals were constructed from asbestos materials meaning hospital staff all the way from nurses right through to senior consultants have also been exposed to asbestos in the workplace in the past.
Many celebrities or their family members have also been exposed to asbestos in the past.
The famous actors Steve McQueen and Ed Lauter passed away as a result of mesothelioma.
The father of the Eastenders actress Kierston Wareing also passed away from mesothelioma and Kierston is now a patron of the charity, Mesothelioma UK.
It can be seen from the very brief snapshot above that asbestos related diseases can affect any person from any sector of society, whether you be male or female, young or old, famous or not, a working man/woman or a house husband/wife, a junior or senior member of the armed forces, a public sector worker or just a general member of the public going about your daily routine.
In short asbestos does not discriminate and extreme caution should be exercised if you come in to contact with any form of asbestos material. If you believe you have come in to contact with asbestos and you are suffering from a respiratory disability then please get in contact with Boyes Turner Solicitors who would be happy to advise you on what to do next.