Asbestos diseases

Asbestos is a fibrous material that has been used in a variety of industries throughout the United Kingdom. The importing of asbestos was banned in the United kingdom in 1999. Asbestos was used to make building materials more rigid and fire resistant. There are three main types of asbestos, brown (amosite), blue (crocidolite) and white (chrysotile). It has been commercially mined since the Industrial Revolution. Asbestos was nicknamed “the magic mineral” because it could be put to so many uses, so you could see it in floor tiles, sewage pipes, textured coatings such as Artex, insulating boards and road signs to name a few. It is a fairly indestructible product and thus can resist decay. It is believed that asbestos has been used in most school buildings and other public buildings, especially in the walls, ceilings and fire doors.

How does Asbestos harm you?

  • Asbestos fibres are inhaled into the lungs.
  • Fibres so fine that they penetrate deep into the smallest airways of the lungs.
  • Once the fibres are  in the lung, the body’s defence mechanism tries to break them down to remove them.
  • Inflammations develop as each fibre is seen as a foreign body.
  • Once fibres are in the body they can move around to other parts of the body.
  • Fibres can penetrate skin and cause irritation and reddening.
  • Fibres can be swallowed and then these could stick in the intestinal tract and move into the lining of the abdomen.
  • Asbestos related diseases develop – could be 10-50 years after initial  exposure.

The Diseases

Pleural Plaques

Minor scarring of the lung (the pleura) causing raised areas  which can be detected by x-ray. They do not necessarily cause pain but do confirm exposure to asbestos.  Unfortunately, people diagnosed with this condition who are in England or Wales are not entitled to claim compensation but those in Northern Ireland and Scotland can. There is continued pressure on the government to change this situation for England and Wales.


A scarring of the lungs due to heavy exposure to asbestos dust. It restricts lung function causing breathlessness. This condition develops slowly and will adversely affect the victim over a number of years.

Pleural Thickening

Thickening of the lung walls which can cause breathlessness and disability.


A form of cancer which can affect the pleura (the lining) of the lung, chest wall or abdomen. This is a malignant cancer and almost all cases of mesothelioma are related to exposure to asbestos. If you have been diagnosed with this condition you may be entitled to claim compensation from an employer.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer can develop as a result of  exposure to asbestos. This risk is heightened if the victim is also a cigarette smoker.


Mesothelioma is not a new disease it can take a long time to develop usually around 20 – 50 years.  It is a cancer which usually affects the lining of the lung (pleura) but it can also occur in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) and the heart (pericardium). The only known cause to this illness is the exposure to asbestos dust.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the mesothelium, also known as ‘diffuse’ or ‘malignant’ mesothelioma.

In the UK about 2500 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma. 6,932 cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma were recorded in England (6,642) and Wales (290) between 2014–16 (National Mesothelioma Audit Report 2018, Royal college of Physicans, Mesothelioma UK).

Both men and women can be diagnosed with this cancer but there are more cases of men having the diagnosis.

There are treatments available to control the symptoms of the illness and there are clinical trials for patients to find out if certain drugs and treatments work .

Getting Financial compensation.

If there has been a  diagnosis of mesothelioma within the last three years, or if a family member has passed away from mesothelioma within the last three years, then specialist solicitors can help you make a claim for mesothelioma compensation. The three-year time limit is from the date of the diagnosis or death – not the date the exposure took place.

Please call 01495 272479 for more information.

Getting Diagnosed

Early detection of an asbestos caused disease is difficult, symptoms can be vague and can be confused with other illnesses such as pneumonia. A qualified medical practitioner needs to correctly diagnose an asbestos related disease. The patient needs to think hard about possible occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos and inform the medical practitioner.  Do not be afraid to speak to your GP.


Common early warning symptoms of a possible asbestos related disease.

  • Persistent pain  in the lower back, shoulder, or chest wall.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Appearance of lump or mass on chest wall.
  • Onset of new persistent dry cough.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Ongoing loss of energy and feeling very tired.
  • Unexplained dramatic loss of weight.
  • Change in voice and onset of hoarseness.
  • Persistent swelling of face and or arms.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Abdominal pain and or distension.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Fluid in the chest lining or abdominal cavity.

If you are diagnosed.

Specialist nursing staff and the treating consultant should explain your condition and the pathway of treatment.

If you are diagnosed with Mesothelioma you will find that it is a cancer and although difficult to treat  there are various trials and treatments available, you may be under a specialist lung cancer nurse or mesothelioma nurse. Give us a call when you have a diagnosis we can help you cope with the diagnosis and give advice on social and financial support available.

On first hearing the diagnosis, many have found themselves very distressed and unable to take in the news.  Do not be afraid to ask questions.  We at AASC are here to to help you through your journey to provide assistance to you and your  family and immediate unpaid and paid carers. Make that call to us it will be the best call you make 01495 272  479

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