Leading Asbestos expert, Robin Howie, has warned that the number of deaths is set to triple over the next 30 years, from men who develop a lethal lung disease after being exposed to asbestos.
He said that the mesothelioma death toll has been massively underestimated due to failing to take into account future improvements in life expectancy.
The Edinburgh based occupational hygienist advised that due to a rise in people living well into their 80’s and 90’s, this will mean that a large number of men will survive long enough to develop mesothelioma.
Previously, people tended to die sooner from other illnesses.
Mesothelioma can take up to 42 years on average to develop following initial exposure.
Mr Howie predicts that between 2014 and 2049, there will be a total of 130,000 males that die from mesothelioma in the UK.
This compares to around 50,000 recorded deaths between 1969 and 2014.
At an asbestos conference in Glasgow last week, Mr Howie said, “This is not going away. We are not even at the beginning of the end. And at some point, the government of the day are going to have to face it.”
The Health and Safety Executive predict that the deaths will be half of what Mr Howie is suggesting.
They have already said that they expected male mesothelioma deaths to reach their peak in 2016, before gradually dropping off.
But Mr Howie insists that officials are simply ignoring the fact that people are living longer.
He wrote in papers that were circulated at last week’s conference, “Given that men aged over 70 accounted for 72 per cent of male mesothelioma cases in 2013 the predicted increase of the number of men over that age over the next four decades suggests that mesothelioma numbers are going to continue to rise, and rise sharply, for many years … It is relevant to appreciate that men in their 80’s in 2030 would have been in their 20’s in 1975 and could have worked with, or worked in the vicinity of others working with, materials such as asbestos insulating boards or asbestos insulation products.”
Mr Howie also predicts that numbers of mesothelioma cases in women will see a rise in the years to come, particularly amongst nurses and teachers.
He said, “We need to define sensible limits and we need to stick to them, but it shouldn’t be the taxpayers who foot the bill for failure. I would have the government officials responsible for enforcement paying compensation out of their own pension pots. That would give them the incentive to get the job done.”
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Published May 02, 2017