Is London’s Drinking Water Contaminated by Asbestos?

In what continues to be a world-wide concern, asbestos exposure has once again made the news in Great Britain. Workers were repairing a burst pipe in Cranleigh, 40 miles south of London, and they found that asbestos was present in the cement used to fabricate the pipes.

Upon inspection, it was discovered that almost a third of Cranleigh’s water pipes were made of asbestos cement. Adrian Clarke, a former factory inspector for the UK government’s Building Research Establishment, was quick to speak up about the material.

“I used to hold the fibres, and walk through the clouds of white dust, until we became aware of the dangers,” Clarke said about his past experiences.

Two Cranleigh residents have recently died of asbestos-related diseases, but a link between the individuals and direct contact with the material has not been proven. In fact, the government’s official position is that there is no cause for alarm. The government is largely citing the World Health Organization’s findings that there is “little convincing evidence” that ingesting loose fibers from water that had passed through the asbestos-laden pipes was harmful.

Clarke and other scientists fear that the WHO is focusing only on the harmful effects of inhalation rather than carefully exploring the dangers of asbestos ingestion.

The Danger Persists

Cranleigh is typical of Britain as a whole. The village experienced 18 pipe bursts in the first half of 2018 alone. It is widely recognized that the 37,000 kilometers of asbestos cement piping that was laid throughout Britain is reaching the end of its predicted lifespan. As the pipes deteriorate, more and more asbestos fibers will be released into the water. When a pipe ultimately fails and bursts, the asbestos content in the water flowing through will spike causing a greater hazard to those in the region.

If you fear you have been exposed to asbestos, it is important to seek more information. Trusted medical and legal professionals can provide the guidance you need.