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In the late 1960s the public were still being assured that most kinds of asbestos were safe, and asbestos sheds were still on sale. However, in Victorian times it was noticed that people working with asbestos tended to die young, so the authorities surely must have known the dangers.
Many schools and public buildings still contain asbestos. Between 1991 and 2000, 147 teachers died from cancer linked to asbestos; they had worked in classrooms insulated by the deadly fibre.
In June 2009 the National Cancer Intelligence Network and Cancer Research UK published a report stating that when researchers excluded gender-specific cancers, men were 60 per cent more likely to develop cancer. They said there’s no known biological reason why men should be at greater risk of cancer.
One reason could be that men are more likely to work in polluted environments, for example plumbers or electricians in buildings where pipes were lagged with asbestos.
The numbers of deaths caused by asbestos is still rising.