MPs call time on asbestos as the deadly substance still kills 5,000 people every year.
Asbestos was commonly used in buildings up until 1999 due to its fire resistant and insulating properties, but despite being banned for well over 20 years its legacy continues to claim the lives of thousands in the UK every year.
Although no longer in use, asbestos can still be found in roughly 300,000 non-domestic buildings such as schools, hospitals and community centres, and in almost one million domestic buildings.
Moreover, asbestos-related diseases are still the number one workplace killer in the UK, which has one of the highest mesothelioma rates in the world.
In 2022, the Work and Pensions Select Committee recommended a target be set to remove all asbestos from non-domestic buildings within a 40-year timeframe, and committee chair Stephen Timms called asbestos-related deaths in the UK “one of the great workplace tragedies of modern times”.
However, the government rejected these recommendations, arguing asbestos is safe if it remains undisturbed, but trade unions argue the government is putting lives at risk.
Though associated with days gone by, asbestos is firmly rooted in the present as the drive to net zero by retrofitting old buildings inevitably throws up questions about whether it’s time to kill two birds with one stone and eradicate this deadly substance from UK buildings once and for all.
Source: Sky News 23rd April 2023