Mesothelioma has killed the equivalent of a Tameside resident every other month for the past three decades according to new figures.
These shocking figures show that 193 people died from mesothelioma – a cancer linked to exposure to the hazardous material – between 1981 and 2011. The disease killed 169 men and 24 women over that time.
Experts claim the number of people dying of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, could increase over time.
Graham Dring, of the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, said it was essential to fund medical research to give victims some hope of a cure.
He said: “These figures are a shocking indictment of the negligent and avoidable exposure to asbestos workers in Greater Manchester have experienced.
“We do of course have particular problems in this area because of Turner and Newall factories, dockers exposed unloading asbestos imports and other workers exposed in factories, cotton mills and engineering plants.
“The most recent government figures show new cases of mesothelioma increasing by 10 per cent with no signs of this man-made epidemic slowing down.
“Mesothelioma can take 30-40 years to develop.
“We desperately need properly funded medical research to give current, and future, victims of this awful disease some hope of a cure.”
Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds, said the figures are ‘shocking’ and promised to continue support funding into the disease and campaigns led by the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group.
He recently supported an amendment to the Mesothelioma Act, which would have increased research funding from the insurance industry into the disease.
He said: “I sympathise profoundly with anyone whose life has been blighted and shortened by exposure to asbestos. As a disease, around 2,500 people are dying from it each year and unless a cure is found, another 60,000 are expected to die over the next 30 years.
“I will continue to support campaigns led by the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, which is asking for increased research funding into tackling this type of disease.”
A campaigner who lost her husband to mesothelioma is among those calling for greater awareness of the disease.
Mike Eason was diagnosed with the disease at Christmas 2004 and died just three and a half months later, aged 62.
Since then, his wife Barbara, of Darnton Road, Ashton, has campaigned for greater research into the terminal cancer.
Barbara, 70, who is a trustee of the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, said her husband was never warned about the dangers of asbestos.
Mike worked as an electrician after leaving school and began work at a power station in 1965, working with asbestos-lagged piping. In 1966 he worked for a chemical company working with asbestos gaskets.
Mike took early retirement in October 2003 hoping he would have plenty of time to spend with Barbara. However, he died in April 2005. Barbara has warned that people are still being exposed to asbestos. She said: “Over the years the cases have gone up and up and I’m not sure it’s got to the peak yet.
“People still have it in their homes where there are asbestos roofs. It’s even in old schools.”
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