Cover-up that Needlessly Exposed Thousands to Asbestos Health Hazards

Just as blood banks continued to sell infected blood in the USA years after knowing about AIDS, the asbestos industry knew about asbestos health hazards well before the public were informed.

Within the European Union asbestos is banned but continues to kill around 5,000 victims per year in Great Britain alone. People may not be aware that they have an asbestos related disease for at least 20 years after being exposed to it.

PR agencies and politicians helped hide a huge scandal

A 2008 report exposed how the asbestos industry covered up facts it was aware of for decades, ensuring that deaths would ensue for many years to come. The report written by journalist, Ed Howker reveals a huge scandal involving one of the biggest asbestos manufacturing organisations in the world; the erstwhile T&N (Turner and Newall). Based in Rochdale this company used everything at its disposal to conceal the truth about the dangers of asbestos. Public relations agencies and politicians helped to hide the fact that any amount of asbestos fibre in the workplace was hazardous to health, no matter how small. The company had known this from 1961, if not earlier.

From reading through archived documents in the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, the reporter was able to ascertain that thousands of fatalities could have been prevented if only people had known. His report is a damning indictment of an industry that placed profit before human lives.

T & N projected an image of benefactors, providing much needed work and contributing to the community in many ways.  However, behind this façade lay a tissue of lies. In the late 1890s government appointed factory inspectors warned them about asbestos health hazards and the effect on their employees. Yet no mention of asbestos related diseases can be found in their records prior to the 1930s.

Factory inspectors and scientific evidence

In the late 1940s the prevalence of lung cancer among people working with asbestos was highlighted by factory inspectors in the National Factory Inspector’s Report (1947).  8 years later scientist Richard Doll conducted research concluding that there was a link between asbestos and lung cancer. Doll later went on to establish the link between smoking and lung cancer. Doll’s research into asbestos was commissioned by T & N. When the result of it became known to the company they wouldn’t permit the scientist to publish his paper. Instead they got their own scientist (Dr John Knox) to discredit Doll’s report. Irrespective of this it was clearly a wakeup call since Knox implemented routine X rays for workers.  If they were found to have developed disease, they were reassigned to areas of work with less dust.  They were not given a reason for the move.

The white powder responsible for asbestos health hazards

In a blissful state of ignorance locals who lived in Spodden Valley joked about the “frost” they had throughout the entire year.  Fruit and trees were covered in asbestos containing powder that escaped through the extractor fan vents from the T & N manufacturing site located in the valley.

For every two houses situated in roads close to the factory, one lost a member of the family during the 1980s from specific asbestos health hazards. The instance of Mesothelioma (a cancer caused by asbestos) was astronomically high.

In essence those who worked in the factory and lived near to it were needlessly put at risk to asbestos health hazards long after T & N was aware of the danger.

Compensation claims were made by victims and the families of the deceased. However, the cases were complicated in terms of how insurers perceived them. To read the full report on this dreadful tragedy click on “The Lies that Killed”

Are there asbestos health hazards in your home?

You may wonder why we have related this depressing tale of woe. Perhaps you believe a toxic material that has been banned in the UK since 1999 negates any asbestos health hazards.  The reality is that deaths are occurring now and will continue to do so for many years to come.  Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed some 20 to 50 years after a person has been exposed to it. In residential and commercial property, constructed before the ban, asbestos can invariably be found.

Asbestos Sampling provides an asbestos self-testing kit that is affordable. You can safely take samples of suspected asbestos containing materials and send them back to our laboratory. Our kit will make sure that you and your family know if there is danger to your health, and what you can do about it.  For free advice and more information contact us today.

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