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Part of "Information on asbestos in schools"

The majority of female mesothelioma deaths are not included in occupational statistics.

The number of female occupational deaths from mesothelioma listed in the statistics is less than the actual number, and probably substantially less. The exclusion of this data is for the following reasons:

Substantial number of female occupational deaths not included in statistics. The HSE statistics give 456 non-working female deaths between the ages of 16-74 in 1991 to 2000 144. (Stats 1) Perhaps one could expect that some females have never worked in an occupation, in which case it raises the separate, but very serious question about why should so many women have died from asbestos exposure at home?

There are various reasons. Some will have retired and perhaps because of this no previous occupation has been included on their death certificate. Some inevitably will have been exposed at school when they were children. Others will have been exposed by cumulative low levels of asbestos released by damage to ACMs within their homes. Some will have been exposed because of their husband’s occupation or by the fact that a high risk factory or shipyard was located nearby. It is probable that not all of the deaths can be accounted for because of such exposures. The explanation for the discrepancy is partially explained by the explanatory notes in the statistics which state that “Only those deaths where the occupation given on the death certificate was that of the deceased were included in the analysis. This resulted in a substantial proportion of female deaths being excluded since the occupation given on the death certificate may often - particularly for deaths in the earlier part of the period - be those of the woman’s husband.145 As 1.87% of the total female population are primary and secondary school teachers 146 and the PMR of female primary and secondary teachers is 100 147, it is inevitable that a significant number of those women, with no occupation recorded on their death certificates, would have been teachers.

Deaths over 74 not included in occupational statistics. There are also serious gaps in the statistical data as no occupational statistics are included about women and men over the age of 74. When one considers the long latency of mesothelioma, 603 deaths of women over 74 during this period would have a significant effect on the statistical conclusions if they were included.

1760 females died, 1,059 not included in occupational statistics. A total of 1,760 females died from mesothelioma during this period, the fact that 1,059 148 have not been included in the occupational statistics certainly confirms the HSE’s caveat that a substantial number have been excluded. Therefore it is most important to bear in mind that the number of deaths included in the female occupational statistics is substantially less than the actual number. Once again it is likely that a significant number of those women would have been teachers. (Stats 1)

Female cancer deaths 63% have no valid occupational code. The Registrar General’s Occupational Health Supplement gives an overview of statistical data concerning the recording of occupations on death certificates of people dying from cancer. It states that up to 63% of women did not have an occupational code provided on their death certificate 149. This tends to confirm the presumption that the HSE occupational mesothelioma deaths list a figure for teachers’ deaths which is probably substantially less than the actual number. Any calculation of corresponding deaths amongst pupils must also be assumed to be proportionally greater.

Female teachers final occupation

It is very likely that if a female’s death certificate records the occupation as teacher, then that is the occupation in which the asbestos exposure occurred. The HSE state that the occupation recorded on a death certificate is the final occupation, and therefore may not represent the occupation where the asbestos exposure occurred 150. That well might be the case in many occupations, but is probably not the case with female teachers. My wife’s teaching career appears to be typical of many women of her age, for she entered teaching after school and then remained in the profession, only taking breaks for our children. Her death certificate records her occupation as primary school teacher. It is most likely that if a female’s death certificate records the occupation as teacher, then that is the occupation in which the asbestos exposure occurred.



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