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How Many People Die Annually Due To Asbestos?

Annual Deaths Due To Asbestos

With the use of all types of asbestos banned in the UK construction industry since the 1990’s, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the number of people dying annually due to it would be low.

According to the World Health Organisation, it is estimated that an average of 13 people a day in the UK alone die from conditions and illnesses caused by previous exposure to asbestos. That’s 5,000 people every year – more than double the number of people who die on the UK’s roads.

And with asbestos still used in large quantities in many parts of the USA and Canada, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe, it’s little wonder that the World Health Organisation estimates that 107,000 people die every year as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos.

Who Is At Risk From Asbestos?

Most cases of asbestos-related illness and death occur among those who worked directly with materials containing asbestos or asbestos itself – namely, those in the construction industry.

However, asbestos-related illnesses are not solely linked to those who were in direct and regular contact with the substance. Environmental exposure to asbestos has been seen to have been just as deadly.

In 2004, it was reported that teachers and hospital workers were among the top ten most frequently cited occupations on mesothelioma death certificates. In the US, one quarter of deaths from asbestos-related cancers occurred in those who had never worked directly with asbestos.

Which Countries See The Most People Die From Asbestos?

According to 2016 mortality data , the United States, China, UK, Japan and Italy saw the most deaths from asbestos-related cancers and illnesses. Germany, France, India, Canada, and Spain were also in the top ten.

This could be due to many factors, including continued use of asbestos, the time it takes for cancers and related illnesses to take hold, asbestos being disturbed in older buildings or properties, or even in part down to a number of everyday items that may contain asbestos.

What are some of the asbestos-related illnesses?

There are a number of malignant asbestos-related diseases, and a number that are possibly linked to asbestos exposure. The most common malignant asbestos-related disease is a type of cancer call mesothelioma. Other asbestos-related cancers include lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer.

There are also a number of cancers that are possibly linked to asbestos exposure, thus accounting for many of the global asbestos deaths. These include, but are not limited to, pharyngeal cancer, stomach cancer, and colon cancer.

UKATA Asbestos Awareness Course

If you work in an environment where you’re likely to disturb asbestos, you will need to undertake asbestos awareness training. Though the use of asbestos was banned in 1999, it is still present in buildings built before 2000 where it would have been used for insulation and fireproofing.

Our UKATA Approved Asbestos Awareness Training Course is a comprehensive online training solution which is easy to use, convenient and the most affordable UKATA course in the UK. It takes just two hours to complete and can be taken by both beginners and those who just need a refresher. Find out more here.

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Why Is Asbestos Banned?

Why is asbestos banned

Asbestos has been banned in the UK – and a number of other countries across the world – for a number of years. In short, asbestos was found to be hugely harmful for the human body. In fact, many asbestos-related injuries are fatal.

But, despite this, the banning of asbestos didn’t happen all at once. Here we will take a look at when and why asbestos was banned in the UK, as well as some of the key asbestos dangers to be aware of.

When was asbestos banned in the UK?

Asbestos was only fully banned from use in the UK construction industry as recently as 1999. While blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos were banned in 1985, white (chrysotile) asbestos wasn’t banned until 15 years later. The 1999 blanket ban on asbestos meant that the manufacture and supply of all asbestos products is now illegal in the UK.

Why was asbestos banned in UK construction?

In short, we now know that asbestos is harmful to the human body.

If you inhale asbestos fibres, they can embed themselves in your lungs causing a number of asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and types of cancer including lung, laryngeal, and ovarian. Many of these asbestos related diseases are usually fatal.

At its peak in the 60’s and 70’s, asbestos was used in over 3000 products – including cement and a number of everyday items ( – and the UK was importing over 170,000 tonnes of asbestos a year.

Why then, did it take until the late 1980s and 1990s for asbestos to be banned in the UK? The biggest problem is that asbestos related illnesses take a long time to develop. In many cases the symptoms of such illnesses show a number of years after initial exposure.

If it’s so harmful, why was asbestos used?

Asbestos is now banned in the UK construction industry, despite it being a hugely popular material for decades before then. In fact, it is even believed that Romans were early adopters of asbestos, however they too noted a “sickness of the lungs” when exposed to it.

Thanks to the industrial revolution, asbestos became a widely used building material in the UK. It was cheap, strong, insulating, heat and fire resistant, sound absorbing, and above all – widely available. It’s easy to see why it became so popular.

UKATA asbestos awareness

Though the use of all forms of asbestos was banned in 1999, it is still present in buildings built before 2000. This means anyone working in the UK construction industry should always be cautious and mindful when working in older buildings.

The dangers of asbestos are not to be underestimated, which is why all employers have a legal duty under The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 to provide workers with the appropriate information, instruction, and training necessary for working in an environment where it is likely they will come into contact with asbestos.

To find out more about our UKATA Asbestos Awareness course, click here (

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What Everyday Items May Contain Asbestos?

Everyday Items That Contain Asbestos

Back in 1999, the UK’s blanket-ban on asbestos came into force.

For decades, asbestos was favoured for its fire-retardant properties, and its ability to act as an insulator. Up until the late 1970s, it was still used in products used to help you get ready in the morning, help grow plants in your garden, and even cook your food.

It eventually became clear that asbestos could be extremely harmful if fibers are inhaled. Today then, you would be forgiven for thinking the products you buy, and those already in your home, are free of asbestos. As it turns out, there are a number of everyday items that may still contain the substance.

1. Hairdryers

Up until as recently as 1980, asbestos was found in most handheld hairdryers. As asbestos is most harmful when fibers are inhaled, it’s worrying that you could be blowing asbestos-contaminated air into your home.

In 1979, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission called on manufacturers to voluntarily recall products affected. Only a small percentage of the 18 million affected hairdryers were recovered.

2. Talcum powder

No parent would willingly put their baby at risk, which is why there was outcry recently when the US Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into whether leading baby-care brand, Johnson & Johnson, life to the public about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder.

The Justice Department is looking at upwards of 14,000 lawsuits claiming that J&J’s talc products have caused ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, a rare form of the disease linked to asbestos exposure. Johnson & Johnson vehemently deny the claims.

3. Toys

A 2015 report by CNN showed that four out of 28 boxes of crayons tested by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, tested positive for asbestos. The same report also found traces of the substance in two toy crime lab kits. Not an isolated incident, tests in 2000 and 2007 also found traces of harmful asbestos in crayons and toy fingerprint exam kits.

4. Small appliances

Historically, asbestos was used in small household appliances such as coffee pots, irons, and toasters. These products are potentially harmful as they may release asbestos fibers when disassembled. You also run the risk of asbestos exposure through frayed wires. Antiques and collectors should pay close care when handling old toasters, irons, and the like.

5. Heaters

One of the reasons asbestos was so widely used ahead of its ban was because it was heat resistant. Because of this, it may be found in older domestic heaters made before the 1980s. If you own an older property with affixed heaters, they could contain asbestos and having them at least inspected by a professional would be advisable.

If you’re one such professional, and you work in buildings built before 2000, you need asbestos awareness training. You can earn your UKATA Asbestos Awareness Training Certificate in just two hours with our online course. It’s the most popular UKATA asbestos awareness training, and can be taken fully online.

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Asbestos Laws and Legislation in the UK

Asbestos laws and legislation

Asbestos is an extremely dangerous substance that was commonly used in construction prior to the 1980’s within the UK. Thousands of people die each year from asbestos related illnesses, leading to stricter regulations and an eventual ban on the use of the substance. 
Sadly, the substance is still used worldwide, so the number of deaths is continuing to increase.

Rules and regulations for the use of asbestos within the UK have evolved since the 1960’s to ensure that the substance was no longer used within construction, and that anyone handling or exposed to the substance was protected and educated on its dangers:

Asbestos Legislation In The 60’s

The Asbestos Regulations of 1969 were the first UK laws designed to help control asbestos exposure in the workplace.

Asbestos Legislation In The 80’s

Asbestos prohibition laws in the United Kingdom were first introduced in the mid-1980s. In 1985, the UK banned the import and use of blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos.

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations were introduced in 1987 enforcing statutory control procedures to help control exposure to asbestos within the workplace.

Asbestos Legislation In The 90’s

In 1992 a law that also banned some uses of white (chrysotile) asbestos, traditionally considered less lethal than the other forms of the mineral, was introduced.  By 1999 the use and import of asbestos was banned in the UK.

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations were, again, updated to make it mandatory to substitute other suitable, safer products for asbestos wherever possible within the workplace.

Asbestos Legislation In The 00’s

In 2002, the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations were amended yet again to require that all workplaces identify any existing asbestos or asbestos-containing materials and manage the asbestos to ensure the safety of workers.

The 2006 Control of Asbestos Regulation Act further built on this legislation to create one single law that prohibits the use, supply and importation of all asbestos. The act also set maximum exposure limits and demanded that anyone who was at risk of encountering asbestos on the job is trained in the proper handling of the material.

The following asbestos products and work activities relating to asbestos were outlawed in the UK by the Control of Asbestos Regulations Act, unless the products were manufactured prior to November 1999:

  • Spraying of asbestos materials as a surface coating
  • Use of low-density insulating or soundproofing materials made from asbestos
  • Importation of asbestos-containing products
  • Use of asbestos cement
  • Use of boards, panels or tiles covered in asbestos paint or plasters

Asbestos Legislation In The 2010’s

The updates to The Control of Asbestos Regulations Act in 2012 added more requirements to improve safety measures of non-licensed asbestos workers. 
Additional measures included: reporting non-licensed asbestos work to the relevant enforcing authority, keeping written records of the work and having workers under medical surveillance.  Again, this update was to further protect workers who may be exposed to the substance.

Exposure to asbestos remains a danger today, however there are a number of training courses that can be undertaken to advise and guide workers on how to remain safe when exposed to the substance.  The most popular are:

If you’re unsure which course is best your you and your workers, then please ask our team.