Asbestos World Watch for December 17th, 2008

In CALGARY, CANADA, roads laid prior to 1985 contained asbestos particles. The asphalt from these roads were once recycled to fill potholes, but that practice will now be changed. When asbestos was discovered in the recycled fill material, air quality testing was done. It showed levels in the air below the federal minimum set for safety, but future potholes will be filled with the recycled roadways material only after the asbestos has been removed from it. Prolonged exposure to asbestos has been linked to the development of several different cancers of the respiratory system such as lung cancer and mesothelioma . In SCOTLAND, a prior ruling from the House of Lords, which prevented those suffering from pleural plaques from receiving asbestos damages claims, could be overturned by a law in pending in the Scottish Parliament. The Damages Bill, if passed, would only apply to Scotland and not to England or Wales. While there does seem to be bipartisan support for the bill, it does face its detractors who fear that it will cost the government too much money.

Clarity on the issue and the exact amounts to be paid will still need to be considered, but it is a matter of providing compensation for wrongful exposure to asbestos, according to Labour MSP Richard Baker, who dismissed the insurance industry’s stance that mesothelioma did not result from pleural plaques: “… there is still the fact of the scarring resulting from exposure to asbestos.” “In these cases, it must be proven to have been wrongful exposure.” Robert Brown of the liberal Democrats said of the Damages Bill, “It brings justice to many people who have legitimate worry, anxiety and impairment of well-being — substantial harm in anyone’s language resulting from the negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of their former employers.” In LANCASHIRE, UK, a National Statistics report on mesothelioma deaths, that mesothelioma has killed over 500 people in the Lancaster area between 1981 and 2005. And even though asbestos is no longer used in new products and new constructions, the study warns that death rates from mesothelioma are rising. The rising toll reflects use of asbestos many years ago, since symptoms of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases often do not manifest for 30 to 40 years. However, trade union officials are concerned that even people just entering the work force may encounter the dangerous fibers as they renovate and repair older buildings.