Hartlepool has fifth-highest asbestos death rate in the country

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

The town’s MP is calling for more research to be done as it’s revealed Hartlepool has the fifth highest asbestos-related death rate.

Figures show that per 8.7 per 100,000 of the town’s population are dying from mesothelioma.

While these figures are terrible, they don’t come as a surprise.

Iain Wright MP

The disease, which killed 37 people from 2010 to 2015, is a type of cancer that most often starts in the covering of the lungs and is caused by asbestos.

The town has such a high prevalence of the disease due to its industrial heritage and MP Iain Wright says the figures come as no surprise.

He said: “While these figures are terrible, they don’t come as surprise to me considering Hartlepool’s history with the steel works and ship building.

“Mesothelioma is an appalling disease, one which people don’t tend to realise they have until they get older.

“In the last Government we pushed hard for mesothelioma, as workers, who no fault of their own, went out to make money for their families and ended up with this disease. As a result many companies, who failed to keep their employees safe had to pay out compensation.”

Mr Wright believes more research should be carried out into the effects of asbestos.

He said: “More research definitely needs to be carried out into the effects of asbestos on the body.

“We need to make sure current workers have the right protection and in 20 to 30 years from now don’t develop illnesses like this.

“I definitely think we will see more and more cases over the next few years until it reaches its peak.”

Barrow-in-Furness has the highest mortality rate in the country with 14.3 per 100,000 having asbestos related deaths, while South Tyneside came in second with a rate of 10.9.

Jonathan Wheeler, president of not-for-profit group the Association Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), said: “Mesothelioma is a legacy of Britain’s heritage.

“Thankfully, employers nowadays are more aware of the dangers of exposing workers to asbestos.

“But those who were exposed 30 or 40 years ago are now facing death sentences for simply turning up to work.”

Asbestos is made up of tiny fibres. People can breathe these fibres in when they come into contact with the substance.

The fibres work their way into the pleura, lining the lung. They irritate the pleura and may cause gene changes (mutations) that lead to the growth of cancer.

Some of the fibres that have been breathed in can be coughed up and swallowed. This is probably the cause of peritoneal mesothelioma.

If a person has been exposed to asbestos, their family may also be at risk as the fibres can be carried home.