Victims of deadly asbestos and their families are calling on all parties in the upcoming council poll to focus on one of the biggest health scandals facing Scotland. They have been backed by doctors, health and safety experts and leading lawyers.
Most public buildings constructed before the year 2000 may contain large amounts of the substance and its estimated that this type of exposure claims hundreds of Scottish lives each year with numbers expected to rise.
Iain Naylor’s wife, Sandra, developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos dust when she was a pupil at Caldervale High School in Airdrie in the 1970s. She died in 2014 at the age of just 52. Mr Naylor is now leading calls for all prospective councillors to make the issue a priority.
He said: “We were so upset at the diagnosis because we couldn’t understand how she was exposed. Sandra didn’t work in heavy industries or anything like that. I lost my wife because she was a pupil in a school full of asbestos. How could that happen? How many others have been affected? I want to make a direct plea to all candidates and parties across the country to begin to address this.”
Laura Blane a partner with Thompsons Solicitors, which represents most of Scotland’s asbestos victims, also backed the stand taken by Mr Naylor.
She said: “We have around 200 cases for people who have been exposed in hospitals, schools, leisure centres, council headquarters, universities, cinemas and sports stadia. It is no exaggeration to say that this is an enormous ticking time bomb and I am seeing increasing numbers of cases.
“We all know that our local councillors have busy in-trays but I would say to them that this is now something that touches every community in the country. It’s a problem that must be tackled with the upmost urgency. We need to know that our workplaces and are schools are safe for generations to come.”
Dr Kevin Blyth, a consultant physician and senior research fellow and associate professor at the University of Glasgow, who leads Scotland’s only Mesothelioma clinical team said that Scotland has the “highest global incidence of mesothelioma” adding: “The incidence is particularly high in the West, a legacy of previous use of asbestos in shipbuilding and other industries. However, asbestos is also incorporated into thousands of Scotland’s buildings like office buildings and schools and cases related to environmental exposure are increasing.”