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Potentially lethal asbestos cannot be confidently identified around the house by two thirds of people

26 March 2012

A new British Lung Foundation survey of more than 2000 people across Britain has shown that more than two thirds (67%) of people could not confidently identify asbestos around the house (1).

The results showed that awareness levels were particularly low in women, 77% of whom said they could not identify asbestos around the house. In addition three quarters (75%) of 25-34 year-olds of both sexes could not confidently identify asbestos in the home.

When disturbed and inhaled, asbestos fibres can cause a range of illnesses, including the terminal chest cancer mesothelioma and were totally banned from use in buildings as recently as 1999. Twice as many people die from asbestos-related illnesses than on the roads each year in Britain (2).

Speaking about the results, Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive at the British Lung Foundation said:

“People often think asbestos is a hazard you would only encounter while working in fields like heavy industry and construction. But asbestos is present in many homes across the UK, and as these figures show, far too many people might be exposing themselves without knowing it.

“I would urge anybody who is thinking of undertaking DIY around the home to stop and take five minutes and assess whether their home may contain asbestos, and then ensure they know where the danger may be and how to deal with it safely.”

The British Lung Foundation is this week launching ‘Take 5 And Stay Alive’, a major campaign designed to raise awareness about asbestos among people who might be considering doing DIY around the house.

Visit where you can find out more.


(1) TNS survey from 1-8 March 2012, 2043 adults aged 16-64
(2) p.4 All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Health and Safety: Asbestos in Schools, The Need For Action.

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