DOZENS of people gathered to watch a ceremonial dove released to recognise those who have suffered from asbestos-related cancer.
The event on Southsea Common marked Action Mesothelioma Day yesterday – a day intended to raise awareness about the cancer and how the deadly dust is still around today.
Organised by the Hampshire Asbestos Support & Awareness Group (HASAG), the dove release saw the coming together of people who have lost loved ones to the disease and those who are suffering from it.
Diane Salisbury, one of the organisers of HASAG, lost her father Dave Salisbury to mesothelioma in 2005 after he was exposed to asbestos during his days as a railway worker. She said: ‘This event was all about bringing people together and raising awareness about mesothelioma, which some people haven’t even heard of.
‘We also want to raise awareness that asbestos is still around today. Even though it’s banned, it’s still in older buildings, like homes and schools. There have been cases where teachers have got mesothelioma because they’ve been exposed. We don’t want to scare people but we need to make people aware it’s still out there and ensure that people in charge of buildings are managing it correctly, to ensure it’s safe.’ Among those who attended the event was Mike Pullan, 67, who has asbestosis and could develop mesothelioma.
Mr Pullan, of Sea View Road, Hayling Island, was exposed to asbestos when he worked for a heating firm. He said: ‘It’s so important to raise awareness about asbestos. A lot of people don’t realise it’s still around and the effect it can have. I didn’t until I saw an advert on TV and it told you to see your GP if you’d worked with it.’
Paula Stratton, 40, from Lee-on-the-Solent, attended the event because her mother Patricia Pentland, 69, has mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos when she made gaskets.
She said: ‘Until mum was diagnosed, I didn’t realise how common asbestos was. Events like this show you it is though.’
ASBESTOS is a fibrous mineral often found in insulation materials around pipes and tanks, and in tiles and other building materials. It was used extensively in the 1970s.
Anyone who’s exposed to asbestos may develop an asbestos-related illness.
The effects of asbestosis don’t tend to appear for many years, usually 20-40.
The main symptoms are shortness of breath, tiredness, a cough, chest tightness and chest pain.
Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma - a rare form of cancer which affects the lining around the chest cavity, lungs and stomach. There is no cure for the disease.