Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group once again joined forces with the Cheshire group to host this year’s Action Mesothelioma Day 2015 on Friday 3rd July.

The national event to commemorate and raise asbestos awareness of the many lives who continue to lose their lives to mesothelioma has been held on the first Friday of July every year since 2006.

Hundreds of community residents come together at their local city centres in areas with historical links to Britain’s asbestos industrial past, such as South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and the West Midlands. Asbestos victim groups are voluntary organisation and registered charities set up by sufferers of asbestos related diseases and the families of those who lost their lives to mesothelioma.

Each dove can be dedicated to a friend or loved one

The Merseyside event saw a sponsored release of doves at 12.00 noon by Liverpool Town Hall. Each dove is dedicated to a friend or loved one in the form of a donation and all dedications were available to view throughout the day on a screen in the main meeting room of the Town Hall. All money raised went to the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund and the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, two charities dedicated to research specifically aimed at finding a cure for mesothelioma.

Action Mesothelioma Day brings together many organisations and individual speakers from the medical, legal and caring professions . Key speakers this year on Merseyside were Dr. Helen Clayson, Cumbria Asbestos-related Disease Support, Dr. Chris Warburton, Chest Consultant and Steve Rotheram MP, group Honorary President. Local civic dignitaries in attendance include the new Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Tony Concepcion.

Mesothelioma Action Day focuses upon key asbestos issues

Each year Mesothelioma Action Day focuses upon key asbestos issues by calling for the improvement in the treatment and care of mesothelioma patients, the prevention of exposure to asbestos and a ban on the export of asbestos to developing countries.

The legacy of Britain’s widespread industrial use of asbestos as low-cost insulation continues to bring harm and suffering to the lives of ordinary men and women exposed to asbestos at home, at work or in the environment. In 2015, new figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revised up their estimated death rate caused by asbestosis diseases, from 4,000 to 5,000 deaths per year.

Half of all occupational cancer deaths

Use of asbestos as an insulation and fireproofing material started to decline towards the end of the 1970s and into the 1980s and the most dangerous brown and blue fibre types banned in 1985. Yet both mesothelioma and asbestosis have increased in the UK almost four-fold in the last thirty years. Today, asbestos exposure is thought to be responsible for an increase each year to more than a half of all 8,000 occupational cancer deaths in England and Wales.

Research funding to find a cure for mesothelioma is crucial. The advances in knowledge and diagnostic techniques have been considerable in recent years. However, mesothelioma cancer has proved to be stubbornly resistant to most conventional treatments. The use of different combinations of drug and radiation treatments, genetic biomarkers, surgical procedures and less-invasive medications have tended to only bring modest increases in patient survival rates.

World’s biggest asbestos producer

Asbestos exports to developing countries continues to be condemned by many in the international community. To date, 55 countries around the world have banned the use of asbestos fibres as an insulating material but still two million tonnes of the deadly mineral are mined and exported annually to developing industrial economies. By 2013 global asbestos production had passed 2,019,000 tonnes.

Russia is now the world’s biggest asbestos producer, with around one million tonnes mined in 2012, more than twice the amount produced by the second largest producer, China. Around 90 per cent of asbestos was being imported by Asian countries 2011/13, while around 10 per cent went to just five countries – Ukraine, Belarus, Mexico, Cuba and Colombia.

Russia, along with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Zimbabwe, once again voted at this year’s UN meeting of the Rotterdam Convention to block white chrysotile asbestos from being included on a “prior informed consent” list of hazardous materials for countries who wish to import the hazardous fibres. The Convention meets again in 2017, but by then, around 107,000 workers worldwide are estimated to die every year from exposure to asbestos, according to the World Health Organisation.

For more information on Action Day Mesothelioma 2015 on Merseyside click here.