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Asbestos risk in HVAC sector

With the recent diagnosis of a former heating and ventilation engineer highlighting the problem of asbestos, the risk to others has been highlighted.

Paul Lewis, 67, from St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, enjoyed a long career as a heating and ventilation engineer.

When he started, he worked a lot with asbestos which was widely used at the time for insulation and fireproofing, the BBC Wales website recently reported

“We were removing it from the pipework, the big hot water cylinders by just knocking if off with a hammer or using a hacksaw or any tool that you could get hold of to just get if off the appliances we were working on,” he said.

“It made a lot of dust. We did used to wear very limited masks, but I don’t think they were right for doing the job that we were doing.”

At Christmas he was told he had mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma sufferers often do not survive longer than a year, a prognosis that two Welsh patients a week are It currently receiving.

It is estimated that half a million public and commercial buildings in the UK still contain asbestos.

A total ban on the use of asbestos only came into force in 1999 and it continues to pose a significant risk for trades people.

Twelve years on, the cost in both financial and personal terms continues to mount.

Currently cancers caused by historical asbestos exposure kill more people every year than road deaths. The cancers can take 30 or 40 years to develop.

The numbers have been rising for decades and are expected to peak in the next five to 10 years.