Emmerdale’s latest storyline featuring a young girl diagnosed with mesothelioma is welcome, as it helps organisations like the UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) challenge the commonly held view that asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma are a thing of the past and an old man’s disease - when thanks to asbestos, nothing could be further from the truth.
While thankfully rare for one so young as the character Donna Windsor (played by Verity Rushworth) to develop an asbestos-related illness, this is because mesothelioma usually take decades to develop, but it does happen and with no known cure, the illness is terminal.
Mesothelioma does not always come from exposure to asbestos, but with estimates suggesting over 1.5 million buildings in the UK still contain asbestos, including schools, flats and as many as 50,000 farm structures, the Emmerdale storyline is relevant.
Whilst it does not cause any harm left undisturbed, if damaged when removed during building work or when crumbling materials release asbestos dust, when inhaled it can be a killer.
Our hope is this storyline will bring greater awareness of asbestos and its related diseases to the general public, who need to think twice when attempting to remove asbestos from their own property and indeed tradespeople tempted to remove this substance without the necessary training.
If you have any doubts or concerns about asbestos and need a registered local contractor, visit our website at www.ukata.org.uk for free information and advice, and a list of UKATA members.