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Tragically, the word asbestos is all too familiar to us and many of our clients whose lives are devastated by asbestos related disease. Perhaps surprisingly, given the number of individuals diagnosed with the disease annually many – particularly the younger generation - are unaware of its presence in society and it's life shattering effects. 

Asbestos is the generic name for a set of six naturally occurring minerals, commonly known by their respective colours like "blue asbestos", or "white asbestos", and is made of millions of microscopic fibres. Asbestos has been mined for millennia, but by the end of the 19th century manufacturers and builders began using asbestos on a large scale because of its range of desirable physical properties including strength, and resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage. Besides all of these, and perhaps most importantly, it was cheap. 

Asbestos was therefore widely used in electrical insulation, pipe insulation and building insulation. It’s common in any industrial or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000 and is still found in our homes, workplaces and public buildings around the country.

Since the 1920’s and the first diagnoses of asbestos related disease in the workers of the factories where asbestos products were made, the medical profession and the government authorities have been aware of the harmful, often fatal effects suffered by people exposed to asbestos dust. 

It’s now widely acknowledged that inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause a range of serious or fatal illnesses including, mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural thickening, and pleural plaques. Although the supply of all materials containing asbestos has now been completely banned in the UK, because asbestos-related diseases do not tend to become symptomatic until many years after the initial exposure (typical latency period between 20 - 50 years), it will be a long time until the effects of the UK wide use of asbestos finally comes to an end.

Until asbestos is completely removed from the country’s buildings people will continue to be exposed to and affected by it.  Today around 4,500 people in the UK die each year from an asbestos-related disease, more than the number of people killed on Britain's roads and it is predicted that the death toll will continue to increase.

But it’s not just workers or those directly exposed to asbestos that can be affected - likely victims also include people who suffer secondary exposure to asbestos from materials used for building their home or families effected from exposure to the likes of overalls exposed to asbestos at a family member's place of work.

Thompsons Solicitors are specialists in assisting victims of asbestos related disease and we are here in our Galashiels office to assist any of people of the Scottish Borders who are affected by asbestos. Over our years of working for victims of asbestos we have built up a strong relationship with Clydeside Action on Asbestos, a charity dedicated solely to asbestos victims, covering the whole of Scotland and offering the service of a fully trained professional Welfare Rights Officers who can advise and represent you at no cost.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an asbestos-related disease we will do everything we can to help you claim compensation for the harm you’ve suffered, so that you and your family can cope better with the situation ahead.

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