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Workers asbestos ignorance

22nd February 2008

A survey by the British Lung Foundation has shown that many workers are not aware of the health dangers associated with asbestos.

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Asbestos was routinely employed as an insulating material in structures until the mid-1980s. The fibres contained in the material can lodge in the lungs after they are inhaled.

The survey revealed that only 12% of the 400 respondents were aware that asbestos exposure meant they were at risk of a type of lung cancer known as mesothelioma.

75% had not received information about how to deal with the substance and more than a quarter believed that exposure to some level of asbestos was safe.

The survey spoke interviewed a variety of tradespeople, including plumbers, builders and electricians.

Almost a third thought - inaccurately - that asbestos had been taken out of all buildings in the country.

Over three-quarters - 81% - said they "never, rarely or only sometimes" made enquiries about whether the place where they worked had undergone asbestos checks before they started work.

The Health and Safety Executive warned that any structure constructed before 2000 might contain asbestos.

Dame Helena Shovelton, BLF chief executive, said: "It is a great worry that those most at risk of this cruel cancer know so little about a killer that could be lurking in the building they're working on today.

She added that the BLF wanted to see the cancer become "a disease of the past, but until people put their health first and protect themselves against asbestos that goal can't be reached."




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