Holland is often held up as an example of enlightened government policies towards its population and the environment – the Netherlands cycle network infrastructure for example is frequently cited as the ideal solution to improving transport, road safety and public health.
It is therefore all the more baffling that an article published this week in the Dutch press reports that an official pamphlet produced by Alkmaar’s mayor, two housing corporations and a university professor in Nijmegen seemingly attempts to downplay the dangers associated with asbestos exposure.
The pamphlet, produced in response to the Dutch government demand that all asbestos be removed from the roofs of houses in Holland by 2024, claims that removing asbestos from buildings is often an unnecessary expense and done in a panic.
The article quotes the pamphlet as saying that ‘asbestos is like breathing in someone else’s cigarette smoke in a bar. It is only dangerous to your health if you do it day in day out’. Perhaps the authors haven’t noted that, when most of us go to work or live in a house with our families, we tend to do so day in day out?
It is a sad fact that there remains bitter argument about the dangers of asbestos and whether if it is left untouched it is safe. Perhaps that is a question that should be put the relatives of our many clients who suffered and died from mesothelioma, the incurable cancer caused by inhaling just a single asbestos fibre, the symptoms of which may not become apparent until several decades after the initial exposure.
The use of asbestos has long been banned in construction it is generally believed by the public that it is a disease of ‘the past’. This is totally misleading. We are seeing more cases and its legacy will continue for many years to come. Until politicians get to grips with this issue and recognise that it kills these arguments will remain. I think the question any politician needs to ask themselves is whether they and their family would be prepared to live in a house containing asbestos where the risk of daily exposure is real.
If you were then to ask them if they had any regrets and how they might feel if subsequently a member of their family went on to develop an asbestos related illness, I think I know what the answer might be.
If you or a friend or family has been affected by asbestos you can contact one of our specialist solicitors on 03700 868686 (or via our contact form or chat) who will be able to offer help and support and provide a signpost service for any immediate needs that you may have.
Watch the video on how we helped Rodney Snare get compensation for his asbestos-related illness contracted through work.