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Law firm voices concern over the hidden victims of asbestos exposure

30th June 2015

As people across the UK get ready to mark this year’s Action Mesothelioma Day on 3 July, Moore Blatch solicitors is using the occasion to raise awareness of the hidden victims of asbestos exposure.

Information provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) continues to confirm that deaths from mesothelioma are increasing, and are a legacy of past exposures to asbestos, when it was widely used across the UK.

In 2016, male deaths as a result of asbestos exposure are due to peak, with 2,100 men predicted to die from the disease. Comparatively, in 1968 there were 153 deaths from mesothelioma, highlighting a marked increase over the last 50 years.

Whilst death certificates accurately record male deaths and in the main identify occupations associated with exposure, women still very much remain the hidden victims of asbestos exposure, with mesothelioma deaths likely to be due to a range of non-occupational exposure, which currently is not being recorded accurately.

Analysis of past incidences has confirmed that female deaths are much more difficult to interpret because a lower proportion are caused directly by occupational exposures.

Moore Blatch asbestos-related disease expert Nicky Howe comments: “Occupations are recorded on death certificates as a matter of course. Unfortunately where women have been exposed unwittingly, often in their own homes due to their husband’s occupation and exposure, this is not reflected on female death certificates and therefore the amount of women that may go on to develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related conditions is very difficult to know or predict.

“We are aware through our own work that female deaths in shipbuilding areas are generally higher and often result from a wife having washed her husband’s work clothes, which he would return home in and would be covered in asbestos dust.”

On this year’s Action Mesothelioma Day, Moore Blatch, is calling for better reporting on females deaths from asbestos exposure – so that these women can receive the support they deserve and an accurate picture of the effects of asbestos is understood moving forward.

Nicky continues: “There are also occasions where wives have gone onto develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related conditions, but their husbands who have been directly exposed, have not.

“There can often be a huge psychological impact on the husband, who can feel a tremendous amount of guilt. It is important that these issues are bought to the forefront, if victims are to receive the support they need. In these circumstances many husbands will require support for themselves as well, to enable them to care for their spouse.”

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