Mesothelioma 2022: Global Disaster, National Tragedy
Events this month (July 2022) have corroborated the long-standing consensus regarding the global catastrophe caused by the widespread and unregulated use of asbestos. Whilst most developed countries have banned asbestos, over a million tonnes of asbestos is still consumed every year, ensuring that the epidemic of asbestos related-diseases will continue for decades to come.
The month began with an announcement by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that, following a consultation of international experts, it had been confirmed that firefighters were at increased risk of contracting mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure.1 Worldwide there are 15 million firefighters, each one of whom is now known to be at-risk from occupational asbestos exposures.
On July 1, the same day as the new IARC monograph was published, asbestos victim support groups throughout the UK held ceremonies, information sessions, public rallies and other events to mark Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD) 2022. Having been drenched at an AMD event years ago in Liverpool and buffeted by the elements at another event in Birmingham some years later the winds were so strong it was decided not to release the homing pigeons it was great to see the weather working in harmony with campaigners.
Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group, Liverpool2; photo courtesy of Chris Ingram, unionsafety.eu
The East of England Asbestos Patient Support Group annual observance of AMD at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds.
HASAGs annual AMD event plus butterfly release, Portsmouth.
Rob Rayner speaking at the AMD rally of the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, Manchester.
Professor Kevin Blyth, head of the Scottish mesothelioma network and consultant respiratory physician at the Queen Elizabeth university hospital, Glasgow, addressing the AMD 2022 event of Action on Asbestos, Glasgow.
In response to extraordinary outreach work by members of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, this year more than 100 buildings and landmarks were lit up blue after dark to mark Action Mesothelioma Day.3 Some of these are shown below:
The Kelpies, Falkirk.
The Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth
Yorks City Walls.
Wentworth Woodhouse House, Rotherham, Yorkshire.
Speaking about the plethora of AMD events and the great turnouts recorded, Liz Darlison of Mesothelioma UK said:
It was enormously uplifting and truly heart-warming to see so many iconic buildings and landmarks lit up blue to mark Action Meso Day. Sadly, Mesothelioma continues to be one of the UKs most shameful public health disasters and yet this is not widely known or talked about. Those of us connected to or within the Mesothelioma community must always do all we can to tell it how it is and Action Mesothelioma Day 2022 was a chorus; well done to all involved. Lets make it bigger and better for 2023.4
A prime objective of the HASAG Asbestos Disease Support Groups annual AMD event is raising money for research into asbestos-related diseases. This years event raised £35,108 making the total raised by HASAG since it began just short of £1,000,000. Speaking about this years AMD, CEO & Founder of HASAG Lynne Squibb said:
Being able to come together for AMD 2022 was such a joy. Although the HASAG team did everything possible to support our members during Covid, we were all delighted to finally meet up in person once again. Zoom meetings and phone calls only go so far. The thrill of being together as part of the HASAG community was overwhelming. We are so grateful to all of our members who joined us for the day and to others who made donations or provided gifts for our ever popular raffle. The cakes that were made, the toys that were crafted all carried with them a bit of love. My Dad, who died of mesothelioma in 2006 would have been amazed to see the community resource which our familys tragedy helped create.
A few days after the AMD events took place, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published data for 2020 confirming the ongoing price being paid by Britons for the countrys use of 7 million tonnes of asbestos.5 In the HSEs 28-page paper entitled Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2022, it was reported that:
Based on just the few findings cited above from the new HSE publication, it is clear that the epidemic killing thousands of Britons every year will not be over any time soon. Anyone who says otherwise is guilty of deluded or wishful thinking. These deaths are occurring in a nation which banned asbestos more than twenty years ago. What the future holds for countries where asbestos use remains legal is all too predictable: many more life-limiting illnesses and premature deaths. There is no place in the 21st century for asbestos.
July 18, 2022
1 IARC/WHO. IARC Monographs evaluate the carcinogenicity of occupational exposure as a firefighter. July 1, 2022.
4 Email from Liz Darlison, July 4, 2022.
5 HSE. Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2022. July 2022.
HSE. National Statistics: Mesothelioma and Asbestosis Mortality in Great Britain: 1968 to 2020. July 6, 2022.
6 HSE. Mesothelioma deaths by Geographical Area, 2022. July 2022.