Asbestos-related deaths in the UK continue to rise

The number of deaths per year due to mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, has increased steeply over the last 50 years, according to a report by the HSE.

Many of those deaths are attributed to past exposure in the workplace, during the period from 1950 to 1980 when asbestos was widely used.  Men who worked in the building industry when asbestos was used extensively are at risk of mesothelioma.

There were 2,544 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2020, a rise of 6% compared with 2019, but similar to the average of 2523 deaths per year over the previous 8 years.  There were 2,085 male deaths, and 459 female deaths.  Around two thirds of annual deaths for both males and females now occur in those aged over 75 years. Annual deaths in this age group continue to increase while deaths below age 65 are decreasing.