Years ago, in the building boom of the 1950s and 60s, the cheap, fire retardant material asbestos was used in conjunction with other substances to provide heat and sound insulation for many industry buildings and products. These included factories, oil refineries, shipyards, power stations, railways and mills. The products that were also manufactured from the toxic material, included lagging, brake pads, ceiling tiles, roofing and many other products.
The dangers of asbestos were recognised in the mid 1960s and the use of the deadliest bleu and brown asbestos was banned completely, but it wasn’t until 1999 that any type of asbestos was banned from being used in the construction of buildings, including homes. The rare but deadly lung cancer caused by breathing in the asbestos fibres is called Mesothelioma, a lung disease causing tumours and breathlessness from the minute fibres that attach to the lungs. Asbestos related lung disease can take 20-40 years to develop, depending on the level and concentration of exposure to the toxin. Now, the number of people being diagnosed with it is increasing. Because many workers in industrial sites were exposed 20-40 years ago during the sixties, it’s only now that the number of cases are starting to peak, and because the use of asbestos was finally banned in most countries around the world by the 1990s by 2020, it’s predicted that there will be fewer and fewer victims of this horrible disease. In the meantime, pharmaceutical companies are currently researching potential treatments and new medicines to help ease the pain, and slow down the progress of asbestos related lung cancer.
The life expectancy of Mesothelioma victims, once diagnosed, is only 4-18 months, making it difficult to treat unless it’s caught in its early stages. Although it is a rare form of lung cancer it is currently deadly. New cancer drug trials in Europe have found that Raltitrexed (Tomudex), part of a group of cancer-fighting drugs called antineoplastics, has prevented cancer cell growth in several forms of cancer. This will help to increase survival time if it’s taken in combination with cisplatin for Mesothelioma patients, with few problematic side effects. The trials showed the median survival rate increased by 2.8 months when participants took raltitrexed. The new drug is approved for use in Portugal, the Czech Republic and Hungary, with additional licensing expected for other European nations by the end of 2010.
If you think you’ve been victim of asbestos exposure during the course of your former occupation and working conditions, contact Simpson Millar for a friendly chat about your legal position on 0808 129 3320.