Nichol Associates

Nichol Associates

Head Office: 0191 438 5432 Training Centre: 0191 4385432

North East firm calls for action in Asbestos Awareness Week, 1-7 April 2014

Hebburn based Asbestos specialists Nichol Associates is backing this year’s Asbestos Awareness Week (1-7 April) and supporting initiatives to make this a truly global campaign moving forwards – in the wake of growing legacy asbestos fears post 9/11.

“We still have legacy issues in UK buildings with regard to asbestos, but it remains a global problem too,” said Nichol Associates Managing Director Dave Nichol. “Asbestos remains the chief cause of work related deaths in the UK and this is likely to rise further as people develop asbestos related diseases like mesothelioma in life and up to 30 years after initial exposure. The aftermath of September 11 has also given new impetus to issues surrounding asbestos both in the UK and US.”

Death rates from asbestos tend to be split between those working directly with the substance and failing to take proper precautions, or those suffering as a result of indirect exposure, such as teachers, surveyors, architects and even the families of tradesmen who have unwittingly carried asbestos home on their clothing. Yet in the US, 9/11 created a worrying, new area of concern.

When construction began on the World Trade Centre in 1966, asbestos was still widely used in building products. Asbestos is usually not harmful unless disturbed and people breathe in the dust – and while we all know the twin towers collapsed to the ground, few appreciate that some 410,000 New Yorkers were exposed to some 400 tons of asbestos dust in the aftermath of this process.

Donna Summer attributed her fatal lung cancer to this asbestos carrying dust cloud but as asbestos related diseases can take up to 30 years to develop, the death toll from the post 9/11 dust cloud could prove greater than from the initial attack, with those who risked their lives attempting to save others at greatest risk.

2,753 death certificates were filed in the aftermath of 9/11, and while Donna Summer is a high profile example of post event victims, there are others and some of whom were added to the memorial.  Mr Leon Heyward’s development of lymphoma was ascribed to dust ingested post 9/11 and Jerry Borg’s death from pulmonary sarcoidosis was explained by 9/11 dust. It is highly unlikely they will be the last victims and the World Trade Centre Health Program was signed into law by President Obama in 2011 to help those suffering such long term health issues arising from 9/11.

“This sobering story affects the debate on asbestos in the UK too; because to date expert opinion has agreed that asbestos in situ unless it poses a credible threat, as it is rarely a danger unless disturbed,” added Dave. “What we have all failed to take into account is the unexpected release of asbestos fibres. A terrorist attack may be a remote possibility, but gas explosions and fires are far more common and could deliver a similar result. Asbestos is present in so many public buildings and schools this is a very real concern we need to address.”

Estimates suggest 70% of buildings in the UK may contain asbestos, which equates to over 1.5 million buildings nationwide and a real headache for those tasked with managing and maintaining buildings with this unwanted 100 year legacy to confront and those training people to handle this killer substance safely.

“Over 4,500 people a year in Britain still die as a result of diseases caused by exposure to asbestos,” added Dave. “Our hope is a global awareness week will bring some of these issues to a wider audience and we can help bring Britain’s hidden killer a little more into the light. Far too many are still (deliberately or unwittingly) flouting the law and asbestos regulations, risking their own lives and the lives of others in the process and we must do what we can to turn this around.”

Asbestos related diseases can take 20 years to develop and there is no cure. If in any doubt, experts like Nichol Associates has spent years training the next generation of asbestos removal specialists and advising organisations throughout the country on such matters although anyone in any doubt can consult the company’s website at http://www.nicholassociates.co.uk/ for advice.

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