Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that every day six people across the UK die of asbestos related cancer mesothelioma.
The most worrying results are reported in the North East of England with ten in every 100,000 men dying from mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Across the UK, 4.51 deaths are recorded per 100,000 of the population.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which takes years to develop following the inhalation of asbestos fibres, but progresses quickly and is fatal. Annual deaths in Britain have increased steeply over the last 50 years, as a result of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.
Modern evidence suggests that around 85 per cent of cases of mesothelioma amongst men can be linked to asbestos exposure at work.
Malignant mesothelioma principally affects the pleura (the external lining of the lung) and the peritoneum (the lining of the lower digestive tract). Many cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage as symptoms appear late in the development of the disease.