Is asbestos dust dangerous?

Yes. Asbestos dust is highly dangerous. Asbestos can be found in any building built before 2000. Stripping it out is high-risk. Breathing air containing asbestos dust can lead to potentially fatal asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancers of the chest and lungs. Asbestos-related diseases kill more people than any other single work-related cause.

  • Asbestos-related diseases (mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer) are thought to kill around 5,000 people a year, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
  • Other workers may suffer from less serious lung conditions.

Despite the scientific evidence, claims are made in some quarters that asbestos is not really a risk to health. However, the HSE confirmed back in 2002 that all forms of asbestos, including white asbestos or chrysotile, are a major health hazard. It says all asbestos can cause cancer and the vast bulk of scientific evidence in the UK and abroad regards the risk from white asbestos as proven.

A report published in September 2015 found that nearly 50,000 people in the European Union are dying of asbestos-related conditions each year with the highest concentration of people coming from the UK. ‘Eliminating occupational cancer in Europe’, published by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), puts deaths caused by exposure to asbestos at three times previous estimates.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.