Every year, more people die from asbestos exposure than road traffic accidents in Great Britain. Many countries still continue to build with this lethal substance – but why? Hannah Devlin investigates
The health effects of asbestos have been well documented for decades. Inhaling these fibres can cause mesothelioma, a very aggressive form of cancer with a poor prognosis. In Great Britain, more people die from this disease every year than road traffic accidents. And yet this material is still found in at least 12,600 schools in England.
Asbestos was banned in 1999 in the UK, and we are still living with its legacy. But beyond Britain, the asbestos industry is still booming. In 2015, Russia mined 1m metric tonnes of it. And countries like India, Thailand and Indonesia are importing it to use in construction. Even the US allows for some use of asbestos, for instance, in floor tiles and car brake pads. But knowing the ill-effects asbestos can have on our health, can we justify its use?