Asbestos flytipping is back in the news headlines – but with a difference!

Corrugated asbestos roof sheeting was dumped near to a quarry entrance in Carlisle – with a yellow label clearly warning of the presence of asbestos, placed on top of the flytipped pile!

On this occasion, it seems it was not a lack of asbestos awareness that led to the illegal dumping of the deadly material but simply an avoidance of the cost of hiring authorised and certified asbestos removal contractors, as required under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2006. A similar incident was reported at a nearby industrial estate a few weeks previously.

Illegal fly-tipping, which is estimated to occur every 35 seconds across the UK, can lead to a Magistrates Court fine of up to £20,000, an unlimited fine imposed by a higher court, or a prison sentence.

It would be thought highly unlikely that the individuals responsible would be wearing the correct protection clothing. Also, just the act of handling and removing the material can cause the release of the deadly asbestos fibres into the surrounding atmosphere, which can remain airborne and a health hazard to anyone in close vicinity.

Chrysotile white asbestos, mixed with cement or plaster, was widely used in building materials such as corrugated roofing sheets right up until the 1970s and 80s before finally being banned in 1998.

It is estimated that there is around half a million properties around the UK still containing the deadly mineral and there is a strict procedure for the highly dangerous operation of controlled asbestos removal and disposal, which involves containment by careful bagging and dust suppression.

Once the fibres have been inhaled, they remain permanently lodged within the lung linings, eventually causing asbestosis disease or the fatal and incurable mesothelioma cancer. Victims only become aware of their condition between 15 to 50 years later when the first mesothelioma or asbestosis symptoms appear.

Survival rates from a confirmed diagnosis at a late stage in the spread of the disease can be between 4 to 12 months and patients have up to 3 years to pursue a claim for mesothelioma compensation.

The twentieth century legacy of widespread asbestos use as an insulating material in UK manufacturing, industry and building means that around 20 people are still being diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer every week and more than 1.8 million exposed to asbestos each year.