More people in Fife living with health ‘timebomb’

The launch of the new campaign in Kirkcaldy
The launch of the new campaign in Kirkcaldy

A leading Scottish charity has urged people across Fife with concerns about exposure to asbestos to seek help and support as soon as possible.

Asbestos Action Tayside (AAT), who work with victims of asbestos-exposure and their families, made the call as figures released by the Scottish Government show the number of hospital admissions in the Kingdom for asbestos related conditions has increased by nearly 35 per cent in the past five years.

Last week, AAT held an information and awareness-raising event in Kirkcaldy. The event saw the launch of a new credit card size card to help raise awareness of AAT’s free and confidential nationwide helpline service.

Disease associated with asbestos exposure represents a potential ticking time bomb, with an increasing number of individuals being diagnosed with asbestos related conditions following exposure to asbestos fibres which may have occurred up to 40 years ago.

People exposed to asbestos can suffer from a number of conditions, from pleural plaques, a form of scarring of the lungs which may not develop into anything more serious, to mesothelioma at the other end of the scale, an aggressive and incurable form of lung cancer.

Alison Blake, general manager of Asbestos Action Tayside, fears significant numbers of people in Fife suffering from asbestos-related conditions are not accessing the support available to them and their families.

She said: “An increasing number of people in Fife have to face up to the harsh reality of a lingering death sentence simply because of the work they may have undertaken many years ago.

“Each week we deal with many individuals and families whose lives have been blighted.

“It is likely the number of those affected by asbestos exposure in the region has yet to peak.

“It is essential that every effort is made to educate the public of the dangers of asbestos exposure, not just in the workplace but also to those who may engage in domestic DIY activities.

“The statistics also appear to suggest a significant number of individuals receiving treatment for asbestos related conditions may not be accessing the wider support services available, including legal services.”

Anyone concerned about the consequences of asbestos exposure can receive independent and confidential advice by contacting the Asbestos Action Tayside helpline on (01382) 225715.