A new report prepared by the Institute of Cancer Research and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examines the occupational, domestic and environmental mesothelioma risks in Britain. The findings are not good news.
The study was conducted for the Health and Safety Executive, an organization whose mission is to prevent death, injury and ill health in Great Britain’s workplaces. The HSE says this is the largest global study of its kind, including more than 600 patients with mesothelioma and 1,400 healthy people, interviewed to examine the rates of mesothelioma among different occupations in the UK.
Statistics resulting from the study include the following:
- One in 17 British carpenters bornin the 1940s will die of mesothelioma
- Plumbers, electricians and decorators born in the 1940s who worked in their trade for more than 10 years before they were 30 have a risk of 1 in 50 of dying of mesothelioma
- The risk for other construction workers born in this generation is 1 in 125.
- For every case of mesothelioma, asbestos also causes about 1 case of lung cancer; the risk of asbestos-related lung cancer for carpenters in this age group is 1 in 10.
- In other industries, about two thirds of British men and one quarter of British women worked in jobs with potential asbestos exposure.
- Among the general UK population, even those who did not experience occupational exposure still have a 1 in 1,000 risk of mesothelioma, indicating unrecognized environmental asbestos exposure, due to its widespread use in the 1960s and 1970s.
The report estimates there are more than 2,100 people diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK every year, with about 5 times as many cases in men as in women.