Asbestos Kills 4,500 British Workers Each Year

By 2020, it is estimated that asbestos will be responsible for more than 10,000 deaths in the UK a year, according to country's Trade Union Council.

Every year in the UK some 4,500 people die from asbestos-related diseases, and by 2020, it is estimated that the substance will be responsible for more than 10,000 deaths a year, according to UK''s Trade Union Council (TUC).

TUC released its report "Mapping the Misery of Asbestos," on Saturday to coincide with International Workers'' Memorial Day.

According to the report, one person has died every day in London over the last four years as a result of working with asbestos -- a death toll of 1,800 since 1997.

"These sad statistics are a legacy of our industrial past. The tragedy is that many more people who were exposed years ago will die whatever we do now, so for them our priority must be to get them the compensation they are entitled to," said TUC Regional Secretary Mick Connolly. "No one should think that asbestos is yesterday''s problem -- there are still millions of tons of this fatal fiber in cement sheets, lagging for pipes and boilers, brake linings and other products."

According to the report, the highest death rates were in regions where shipbuilding, manufacturing, railway engineering and the docks predominate.

Workers in construction, engineering and shipbuilding are also at high risk.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber often used as a fire retardant. It has known health effects including the rare cancer mesothelioma as well as lung and other cancers.

In its report, TUC calls for a global ban on asbestos and a public register of the asbestos in buildings.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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