An Ammanford family, who suffered an asbestos-related tragedy in October 2019, is calling for greater awareness in the lead up to the 22nd anniversary of the UK asbestos ban.

Today (Wednesday, November 24) marks the anniversary of the ban on the use and sale of asbestos, but the family are saying more can be done to protect people from asbestos.

Jason Williams, a 45-year-old father of two teenage children, died in October 2019 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

Jason had been exposed to asbestos at work in his early twenties, and stopped working in January 2019, before his diagnosis in March.

A peritoneal mesothelioma is a primary tumour in the peritoneum - the lining of the abdomen which helps to protect the contents of the abdomen.

Roy, Mr Williams’ father, called the peritoneal mesothelioma "an awful disease which caused him [Jason] to lose all his independence".

“Our family was aware of asbestos and the dangers it posed, but – like many – thought it was a problem from yesteryear. We could not believe that, decades after the asbestos ban came into force, Jason and his colleagues would be put in harm’s way like this.”

Amanda Jones, the solicitor at Thompson Solicitors who helped Jason’s family secure compensation, said: “Although asbestos was banned 22 years ago, it continues to devastate the lives of thousands every year.

She highlighted “the continued presence of asbestos in buildings across the UK," adding: 

"Letting lethal asbestos sit dormant in workplaces, schools, hospitals and other public buildings is not a long-term solution, so the onus is on those responsible – whether that be employers or governments – to redouble efforts for the proper identification, containment and removal of all asbestos in buildings across the UK."

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales’ regional secretary, added: “I cannot begin to imagine the trauma that Jason’s death has had on his family, especially at such a young age.

“This tragic story acts as a reminder that just because asbestos use was banned in 1999, the impact of the substance is far from a thing of the past.”