Mesothelioma 2022: Global Disaster, National Tragedy  

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



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,


The East of England Asbestos Patient Support Group annual observance of AMD at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds.


HASAG’s 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


York’s 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 UK’s 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. Let’s make it bigger and better for 2023.”4

A prime objective of the HASAG Asbestos Disease Support Group’s annual AMD event is raising money for research into asbestos-related diseases. This year’s event raised £35,108 making the total raised by HASAG since it began just short of £1,000,000. Speaking about this year’s 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 family’s 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 country’s use of 7 million tonnes of asbestos.5 In the HSE’s 28-page paper entitled “Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2022,” it was reported that:

  • “annual mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain increased year-on-year over the last 50 years, with just over 8 times as many deaths in the most recent decade, 2011-20, compared with 1971-80;”
  • there was a 6% rise in mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain from 2,404 in 2019 to 2,544 in 2020;
  • in 2020 there were 2,085 male (up 6%) and 459 female deaths (up 7%); in 2019, there were 1,975 and 429 male and female deaths, respectively;
  • the incidence of male mesothelioma mortality was highest for workers in the construction industry, including carpenters, plumbers and electricians; about 46% of mesotheliomas in men born in the 1940s was due to exposures in the building industry;
  • “proportional mortality ratios are somewhat higher for teachers and administrative occupations than those for nurses, sales occupations and process operatives, and this may suggest the potential for asbestos exposure during work time was somewhat higher in these jobs during the period of peak use.”
  • the geographical areas with the highest male mesothelioma death rates for the period 1981-2020 were: Barrow-in-Furness, West Dunbartonshire, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Portsmouth, Plymouth, followed by Medway, Hartlepool, Southampton and Gosport;6
  • the geographical areas with the highest female mesothelioma mortality were: Barking and Dagenham, Sunderland, Newham, West Dunbartonshire, Leeds, Barrow-in-Furness, followed by Havering, Basildon, Blackburn with Darwen and Castle Point;
  • 63 of the 2,085 male deaths and 15 of the 459 female deaths in 2020 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate as well as mesothelioma.

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.

2 Press release MAVSG. Action Meso Day. July 4, 2022.

3 Go Blue for Meso.
See Action Meso video:

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.



       Home   |    Site Info   |    Site Map   |    About   |    Top↑