Of Course Asbestos Still Kills After 20 Years – It Takes 40 Years To Kill From Mesothelioma

We have an interesting entry into the Idiot Complaint of the Day Race. That asbestos is dangerous is entirely true, that mesothelioma is a horrible way to die – mesothelioma being the major asbestos caused disease, it’s other name being asbestosis – is true. That we banned the use of it and have had significant – actually, far too extreme – controls upon it for 20 years is even true.

So why is it idiocy to complain that it’s still killing people? Because it takes 30 to 40 years for asbestos exposure to show up as mesothelioma:

Asbestos still killing 5,000 Britons each year, 20 years after ban

OK, interesting fact, but is this a complaint about it?

Asbestos is killing 5,000 people a year, two decades on from the toxic material being banned, a new report has shown. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) said people were still being exposed to asbestos, 20 years after it was outlawed in Britain. More than 130 companies or individuals have been ordered to stop work activities over the past year because of non-compliance with asbestos regulations, said an IOSH report. Asbestos is present in at least 500,000 buildings built before 1999, said the report. IOSH chief executive Bev Messinger, said: “It is unacceptable that 20 years on from asbestos being banned in Britain, organisations are still potentially putting at risk the lives of employees, their families and other members of the public. “Thousands die in Britain every year from cancers like mesothelioma, while many more are diagnosed with it. “All this is preventable through good occupational safety and health. It is time for organisations to wake up and realise how dangerous asbestos is. There are no excuses.”

Well, yes, it is a complaint about it. Even though it’s something we’ve already done something about, possibly even solved. For, as is noted:

Dr Nick Hopkinson, medical director at the British Lung Foundation, said: “Breathing in asbestos dust can cause mesothelioma. Mesothelioma takes a long time to develop and people often get symptoms 30 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

Those 5,000 a year dying – peace be upon them of course – were exposed 10 to 20 years before we imposed those controls. This must be so if the controls were imposed 20 years ago and it takes 30 to 40 years for asbestos to lead to mesothelioma. This could be many things therefore – not least a mourning for how the mistakes of the past lead to deaths now. But one of the things it cannot be is an insistence that we need more, or tighter, rules now, as we’ve absolutely no evidence whatsoever that exposure since the rule changes is causing any disease.

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literate3
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literate3

Why were people exposed to asbestos? To save other people from being burned to death! Asbestos blocks fires which 50+ years ago killed many, many more people than asbestosis. When I was a child all theatres and cinemas were required by law to have an asbestos fire curtain which had to be drawn before every performance and all fire escapes had to have doors protected by asbestos. Most uses of asbestos were not so much permitted as *required* by legislation. [The main exception being asbestos cement roofs for garages and sheds]. There is evidence that exposure since the rule changes… Read more »

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Cancer Research (not noted for understating cancer death rates) say about half that number and the British Lung Foundation agree. 5,000 is roughly the number living with diagnosed mesothelioma at any one time (from which I deduce that there’s a high mortality with a life expectancy of about 2 years following diagnosis).