Taking Wing for Mesothelioma Victims
A FLOCK of white doves was released to mark Mesothelioma Action Day in Stratford, east London, yesterday, and to honour the memory of all those who had died from the asbestos-related disease.
Before releasing the doves, Eileen Beadle, whose husband Raymond died from mesothelioma, aged 56, had paid tribute to him and other victims, and we held a minutes silence in their honour.
Eileen, seen below in white blouse second from the right, speaking from the town hall steps, founded East London Mesothelioma Support group to link up and help families affected, and win wider recognition and understanding of their plight.
Mesothelioma, a form of cancer effecting the lining of organs such as the lungs, is caused by exposure to asbestos dust, sometimes even for short times. Workers in construction and other occupations using asbestos are most at risk, but there have been cases where it affected other people in buildings with the material, and even family members such as those washing a partner's overalls. It can take more than 30 years before symptoms appear, and so it is often difficult to prove responsibility of past employers even if these are traced. Insurance companies are naturally reluctant to pay compensation, and have even lobbied to prevent changes in the law that would make it easier to claim.
Following the dove release ceremony, there was a seminar sponsored by London Hazards Centre at which we heard from qualified professionals about developments in the law and in specialist nursing care for mesothelioma, which can now include counselling for terminally ill patients worried that their familes might not receive compensation or help after they are gone.
Trades unionists, incuding members of the Construction Safety Campaign, spoke about the continuing fight over asbestos and its effects, and the wider issue of attacks on health and safety issues at work.
ALLAN GRAVESON, of the ships' officers' union Nautilus International, said three friends of his had died from mesothelioma contracted through work with asbestos, such as when removing lagging from engine room pipes.
Warning that asbestos continued to be mined and used in China, Turkey and Canada -where a new mine had just been opened -Bro.Graveson said it was now often coming in to the country in disguised form, mixed with other materials.
A Turkish ship impounded at Rotterdam was found to have as many as 3,000 items containing asbestos. Dutch authorities had tested items in their laboratories. But here in the UK inspections were far less adequate.
During discussion it was noted that 70 per cent of schools in Britain were believed to contain asbestos, but the government, in line with other attacks on health and safety, had decided not to fund a national survey of schools for asbestos.
London Hazards Centre:
East London Mesothelioma Support:
Michael Lees' site on Asbestos in Schools: