The number of people in Tayside being referred for asbestos-related illnesses has increased by 28% in just one year.
Between April 2012 and March 2013, 120 people were in contact with Asbestos Action Tayside, but that figure rose to 154 in the following 12 months.
Mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer are the two most serious diseases caused by asbestos and AAT saw a referral increase of 43% for the conditions last year. The two also claimed the lives of 48 members of AAT in 2013 as well.
These figures were expected to rise and peak between 2016 and 2020, when those who were exposed to the substance about 40 to 50 years ago start developing symptoms.
Dianne Foster, support officer for AAT, said: “Asbestos stays in the system and can take between 15 and 50 years to manifest itself.
“Some people are more aware than others that they might be likely to have an asbestos-related condition, but many don’t know until they go to hospital for something else and an X-ray shows the damage to their lungs.”
Dianne also revealed that the number of women coming forward with problems had increased over the years.
She said: “One of the things about the 70s is that the men would bring home their boiler suits, their wives would put the garments into the washing machine, completely unaware they were being exposed to asbestos.
“During that time, a sizeable number of women were also working in factories containing asbestos materials.”
AAT provides support to anyone who is affected by the problems associated with asbestos and can direct them to any benefits they could receive or emotional assistance they may require.
Dianne said: “We offer practical help, because people are entitled to benefits they may not be aware of. We also offer emotional support to sufferers and their families. Within one or two days of being referred, we can be there to help them through it.
“Some people diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition find it difficult to understand why they have the disease, while others they worked with can be unaffected.
“We just can’t explain why it happens to some, but not to others.”
Anyone affected by asbestos can call AAT on 01382 225715.