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Executive dating firms

The new army of specialist asbestos removal contractors, the only professionals now allowed to handle asbestos, certainly have a vested interest in exaggerating the dangers of products which are, in effect, harmless.

For ' white' asbestos, as even the HSE has acknowledged, is 500 times less dangerous than the 'blue' form, because its soft magnesium silicate fibres rapidly dissolve in the human lung.

And when it is encapsulated in cement, as it most often is, it is virtually impossible for those fibres to escape and be breathed into the lungs at all.

Second, a new breed of law firm, which specialises in compensation claims and takes a healthy cut from any successful cases, is keen to tout for custom.

The risks of their causing lung cancer are 'arguably zero'.

On the back of this, compensation claims - particularly in America - amounted to many billions of dollars.

But the devil got into the story when this justified concern was then used, by sleight of hand, to demonise a quite different mineral: 'white' asbestos, which is used to make more than 90 per cent of all the asbestos products in the world.

It sounds horrific, as though hundreds of thousands of children and their teachers are being daily put at risk by exposure to a substance as deadly as anthrax.