The number of hospital staff, patients and visitors at risk of asbestos-related diseases in London’s hospitals is a “ticking time bomb”, according to union representatives.
A shocking 94 per cent of hospitals in the capital contain asbestos, BBC London has found.
An estimated 1,000 people in London have died from mesothelioma since 2011, seven of whom were doctors and nurses.
Hospitals have been long advised to encapsulate asbestos-lagged pipes to protect against disturbance, but this has not always been done to the serious detriment of its workers.
The Unite union says that this figure is increasing, but the Health and Safety Executive told the BBC that hospitals were safe.
But Jerry Swain, acting national instructor for Unite's construction centre described the number of people who are developing mesothelioma as a "ticking time bomb".
Edmund Young, an asbestos lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “The number of instances where doctors and nurses who have worked in hospitals and have contracted mesothelioma is on the increase.
“Hospitals have been long advised to encapsulate asbestos-lagged pipes to protect against disturbance, but this has not always been done to the serious detriment of its workers.”
While the use of asbestos in commercial buildings ended in the UK, by law, in 1999, white asbestos used to protect piping can still be found in hospitals. This is deemed safe if it remains undisturbed.
Around 2,600 people die from mesothelioma each year in the UK. Doctor Peter Szlosarek, consultant oncologist at Barts Hospital, has revealed that in areas of high risk exposure, five-10 per cent of individuals will develop the fatal condition.
The government has not yet responded to the BBC's requests for a comment.