North Tyneside has the second highest rate of deaths caused by mesothelioma, new figures have revealed.
The borough’s industrial background means there are 11.23 deaths from mesothelioma in every 100,000 of population – placing it just ahead of neighbouring South Tyneside and nearly three times the national average of 4.51.
The figures were put together by the not-for-profit campaign group, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
Neil Sugarman, president, said: “The suffering of families affected by mesothelioma demonstrates how important it is that lessons are learned and health and safety in the workplace is respected.
“Mesothelioma is a lung cancer exclusively linked to exposure to asbestos, which could have happened 20 or even 30 years before the disease emerges. It is always fatal, often within 18 months of diagnosis.
“Areas such as Tyneside, which has a particularly high rate of deaths from mesothelioma, are no doubt seeing the effects of past industry where workers were negligently exposed to asbestos.
“This is despite the risks being known since the 1950s. People went to work and came home with a death sentence because their employers exposed them to asbestos.”
In the past 10 years, the number of deaths from mesothelioma has rocketed by nearly a third.
Mr Sugarman said: “As the effects of more robust regulation of the use of asbestos and better safety practices come to fruition, the number of needless deaths should start to decline.
“Construction workers and association tradesmen are a high-risk group for asbestos exposure, as are shipbuilders. Even teachers are at risk as asbestos was used so widely when building schools. 19 teachers are dying from mesothelioma each year.
“It’s a national tragedy.”