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New Services

We are delighted to announce that we are now able to offer new services to all clients.
We have added, Removals, Enabling Works & Soft Strip Demolition to our existing asbestos services.

To discuss how we can assist you please Contact Us

Our New Website Is Now Live

To compliment our new services we have some fantastic new features on our newly developed website. We are now offering our clients a secure log in area to view and download asbestos reports. In addition we are also able to provide video tours of the inspection work carried out.

For more information please contact us on 01268 534380

Asbestos: The killer that still surrounds us

It’s been illegal for decades, but asbestos is everywhere, embedded in our homes, schools, offices and shops. It’s now killing more people in Britain than anywhere else in the world.

BY HARRY DE QUETTEVILLE to view the unedited version on the telegraph website please click here

Andrew Lawson was the kind of man whose force of personality could shake things up, even in a gargantuan organisation like the NHS. A consultant anaesthetist, he devoted his career to sparing the sick both the agonies of illness and the torments of treatment. Among those who sought him out, his wife remembers, was an MI6 officer who had to live with the crippling after-effects of torture.
Lawson understood that while doctors are captivated by diagnoses and diseases, those being treated are overwhelmingly concerned with something else entirely: pain.
One day in 2007, however, he was the one who began to suffer. “I have not felt myself,” he wrote in May that year. “I’ve had difficulty in energising myself.” Struggling with flu-like symptoms, he found himself impatiently berating his wife, Juliet. “I want everything to happen sooner rather than later,” he noted. When Juliet went away on business for a week, Lawson found himself unusually, and unaccountably, upset. Something was up.
He got a colleague to perform a chest X-ray. Just two weeks earlier he had been skiing in the French Alps. The results of the X-ray came back. He had mesothelioma, an incurable cancer that affects the pleura, or lining of the lung.
With most cancers, it is hard to know the exact cause. Though some smokers get lung cancer, for example, not all lung cancer sufferers have smoked. But mesothelioma is different. In almost every case, the cause is exposure to asbestos – a fibrous building material once dubbed “miraculous”, but now known to be mortally dangerous.
For most of us, mesothelioma has been an easy disease to ignore. Asbestos, after all, is a product of the past. The most dangerous type of asbestos has not been used in Britain since the 1960s, when a voluntary industry ban came into effect. Even when it was used, only people in specific industries worked closely with it – pipe laggers, builders, carpenters and shipyard workers, for example. An industrial toxin from another era, it hardly seems cause for concern today.
But such complacency is misplaced. Britain, it turns out, is today at the peak of a mesothelioma epidemic. There are more mesothelioma deaths here than in any other country on the planet. With an annual toll of about 2,500, more than twice as many people die of the disease as die in accidents in motor vehicles.

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Mesothelioma annual deaths since 1980 and projected future deaths in Great Britain

The reason that we are feeling its deadly effects now is that, though asbestos use has been illegal for years (all types of asbestos were eventually banned by law in 1999), it usually takes decades for mesothelioma to develop. And the mesothelioma scourge is not confined to veterans of industrial building jobs. Asbestos has been, and in many cases still is, embedded in the homes we live in, the offices we work in, the schools we are educated in, and the stores we shop in. As a result, mesothelioma is no respecter of class, wealth, occupation, or age. The bastions of privilege, from smart London department stores to public schools, have proved no refuge. The Houses of Parliament are riddled with asbestos. Even the hospitals that are meant to make us better have been reservoirs of this deadly carcinogen.
Andrew Lawson was not old. Nor was he a pipe lagger. In fact, he struggled to think where he might have come into contact with asbestos. Then he put his finger on it. “It seems that there may have been a lot of asbestos in the tunnels at Guy's Hospital where I spent six years training,” he wrote. “Everybody - students, nurses, doctors and porters - used the tunnels. One wonders how many of my contemporaries will get the same disease?”
It was a question to which, sadly, he was able to provide a partial answer. “Of four doctors who trained at Guy’s Hospital and who subsequently developed mesothelioma in the past five years,” he noted in a letter in 2010, “I am the only one left alive.”

How many of us will get this disease?

Andrew Lawson was diagnosed with mesothelioma when he was 48. When he died, on February 17 this year, he was 55. To survive so long is unusual. Fifty per cent of mesothelioma sufferers are dead 8 months after diagnosis. It is always fatal.
So now we can only echo Lawson’s question: “How many of us will get the same disease?”
According to Britain’s leading expert on mesothelioma, Professor Julian Peto, our best guess is that between 1970 and 2050, when the asbestos epidemic in Britain should have played itself out, some 90,000 people will have died. Most currently have no idea that they will die this way.

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An asbestos mine in Quebec, Canada Alamy


A quick glance at the reports from the courts, where those affected often turn for compensation, shows how far the scourge of mesothelioma has spread. This June, for example, Marks & Spencer admitted negligently exposing Janice Allen to asbestos. She worked for the chain for nine years, from 1978 to 1987, supervising clothes sections at two sites – one of which was the flagship store on Oxford Street. Mrs Allen was only 18 when she started working at M&S. Now she has two children in their 20s.
"Before this happened," she says, "I had never heard of mesothelioma, I barely knew about asbestos. I never would have dreamed that I would be affected by it."
Few people do know much about asbestos. In fact, asbestos describes not one substance but a group of six minerals. They get their name from the word “asbestiform” – which describes the fibrous structure which endows them with strength and flexibility. Of the six, three have commonly been used in the building trade.
Chrysotile, commonly known as White Asbestos, is by far the most frequently found in buildings today. It was used in roofing panels, floor tiles, pipe insulation, boiler seals, even brake linings in cars. It is less lethal than other forms of asbestos, but it’s still considered a “major health hazard” that can kill by the EU and WHO.
More dangerous, however, are Brown Asbestos (amosite) and Blue Asbestos (crocidolite). Britain was once the world’s largest importer of Brown Asbestos, and experts suggest that “there is strong but indirect evidence that this was a major cause of the uniquely high mesothelioma rate [in the UK]”.

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A Marks & Spencer employee was exposed to asbestos at its flagship store in Oxford Street, London Alamy
Janice Allen may not have thought of herself as a typical victim of mesothelioma, but Julian Peto’s work suggests that her story is far from uncommon. He has produced a study of sufferers which suggests that “a substantial proportion of mesotheliomas with no known occupational or domestic exposure were probably caused by environmental asbestos exposure.”
Much of that exposure, he says, is due to “normal occupation and weathering” of our buildings. No one, it seems, can be sure that they are safe.
A report from Goddard Consulting, which looked at the Palace of Westminster, shows how people, even in the heart of government, might have been exposed unawares. In 2009 Goddard reported that service shafts and piping ducts behind Parliamentary committee rooms were contaminated with asbestos, whose lethal fibres could be disturbed by something as innocuous as “strong currents of air”.
MPs are frequently accused of looking after their own interests, but in this case it seems the opposite may have been true. While the Parliamentary Works Services Directorate insisted that the Palace of Westminster had been given “a clean bill of health”, it is now accepted £1bn of work lasting several years is required to overhaul Parliament, upgrading electrics and removing asbestos, and that after the 2015 general election MPs may sit in the nearby QE2 Conference Centre rather than on the Green Benches at Westminster.
The Goddard report noted that “the presence of asbestos has not been managed in accordance with the various regulations”. It is impossible to know if this mismanagement will cost lives. All anyone can do now is wait.

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HOW TO REMOVE ASBESTOS
In fact, pinning lethal asbestos exposure on one company or place of work – usually decades after the fact – has proved a huge problem for mesothelioma sufferers seeking compensation. Many of their former employers have changed hands or gone out of business. Insurance records may have been lost. And those defending themselves from claims know they have time on their side, which the claimants certainly do not.
In response, this year has seen major new legislation which makes it easier for those with mesothelioma to claim compensation even if their former employers can no longer be traced. The law has created a £350m pot of money, funded by the insurance industry, for those diagnosed after July 2012 who can prove exposure but have no one to sue. In these cases sufferers will be awarded 80 per cent of what a court might have awarded in a normal compensation case – about £120,000. About 300 successful claims to the scheme are expected each year.
Andrew Morgan, like many involved with mesothelioma sufferers, thinks that £350m represents “a very good job” for the insurance industry. “It’s a deal written by insurers for insurers” he says, suggesting that the sum is a quarter of what insurers would have had to pay if the passage of time had not intervened, and mesothelioma sufferers were able to track down companies and sue them in the normal way. Even Mike Penning, then Works and Pensions minister, admitted that the law was “not perfect”. But both Penning and Morgan admit that, with seven victims dying each day, quick action was needed. “People are suffering so much, and need help today,” said Penning during the Mesothelioma Bill’s second reading in December last year.
By then, Graham Abbott had been in the hands of Prof Loic Lang-Lazdunski for 19 months. After their initial consultations, Lang-Lazdunski advised surgery which, in contrast to Tom Treasure, he believes has a positive effect. This was followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy - a tri-therapy for which Lang-Lazdunski can boast five year survival rates as high as 40 per cent. Abbott felt empowered. “That of course is one of the most important things,” says Abbott. “You see it in patients all the time. There is some drive that keeps you going. When you give up you can deteriorate very quickly.”
Graham Abbott went in for surgery in March 2012. By the end of August he had completed the last of his six cycles of chemotherapy. Follow-up scans revealed no sign of the disease.
“Then I had my scan in March [2014]. There was multiple spotting [of cancer] around my chest. I was just about to turn 50.”

"It's not life threatening. It's life ending."

Once again Abbott put himself through six cycles of chemotherapy. Now there is no sign of the tumours. But the process is both physically and emotionally gruelling.
“You have to think about practical things – about the finances when I’m gone for example, or showing my wife how the boiler timer works. When you get bad news you start getting negative. You have to look forward.” As the father of Ellie, 16, and Tamsin, 14, that is not always easy.
“It’s hard as a parent,” he says. “It is difficult to know what to say and how much to say. When I was first diagnosed I told the girls that I had a condition that meant I wasn’t going to become old. They reacted very differently. Tamsin is very sociable and boisterous. She told her friends and we got lots of calls very quickly. Ellie was more reserved. She didn’t say much.”
Such conversations are something that all cancer patients must face. But for mesothelioma sufferers such discussions are not leavened by hope, by even a glimmer of a possibility of survival. The disease carries with it (even as it did, eventually, for Stephen Jay Gould) a grim certainty. As Andrew Morgan says, “mesothelioma is not life threatening. It’s life ending.”

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ASBESTOS

2500BC
Bodies of embalmed Pharaohs wrapped in asbestos cloths. Asbestos fibres used to strengthen cooking pots and provide greater heat resistance.

1st century BC
Pliny the Elder describes asbestos. "a linen has now been invented that is incombustible. I have seen napkins made of it glowing on the hearths at banquets"

c1850
Modern commercial asbestos use begins in Italy, where it is used to make paper (even bank notes) and cloth.

1880s
Major asbestos mines open in Canada and South Africa, and soon after in America, Itlay and Russia. It is an ideal insulator for the steam engines and and turbines of the Industrial Revolution.

c1900
Global asbestos production rises to more than 30,000 tons annually.

1918
Statisticians with Prudential identify premature mortality among those working with asbestos, who are subsequently refused life insurance.

1924
Nellie Kershaw dies in Rochdale. Dr William Cooke testifies that asbestos particles in the lungs "were beyond reasonable doubt the primary cause of death". It is the first case of its kind. Kershaw's employers, Turner Bros Asbestos, do not admit liability. No compensation is paid.

1939-45
World War Two sees intensive shipbuilding, one of the deadliest occupations for asbestos exposure.

1967
Voluntary industry ban on the import of Blue asbestos

1971
Court of Appeal confirms the first successful personal injury claim in Britain as a result of asbestos exposure.

1975
Global asbestos production rises to more than 4,213,000 tons annually. UK imports 139,000 tons.

1983
Health and Safety Executive in Britain requires all contractors working with asbestos to be licensed.

1985
Import and use of Blue and Brown asbestos banned by law in Britain.

1999
All asbestos use banned in Britain.

2014
Mesothelioma Act passed in the UK. A £350m compensation scheme is announced.
Asbestos is banned in more than 50 countries, but white asbestos is still used as a cheap building material in many parts of the world. Global production hovers around 2m tons annually.

Spectra Analysis Motorsport - New Car First Test at Top Gear

Over the course of 2013 Spectra Analysis have been working with Bubble and Kick to turn company directors Ford Focus RS into a Britcar endurance race car to FIA international standards.
With hours of development and working in conjunction with some of motorsports finest suppliers the car had been transformed from it's humble road car base into a race machine.
The day started out with a range of basic tests as it was initially planned to just perform a simple shakedown to check the car systems, it soon became very clear that the car was ready for a lot more. After 20 laps of running at 60-70% the car was pushed harder and harder and the shakedown changed into a full track test. Over the course of 5 hours the car was fine tuned by the both drivers and the team. Both Spectra Analysis and Bubble and Kick were delighted with the car. More updates will be available in the coming weeks as the car is prepared for it's first race on the 23rd November in the Britcar into the night race at Brands Hatch.

Below are a few images of the new car
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The new car in action in video form

Bubble & Kick and Spectra Analysis - Focus RS Shakedown Test from mojo media on Vimeo.

Spectra Analysis Motorsport - Silverstone

Another weekend of Motorsport with the newly acquired Clio Cup Race Car was another big step forward. Both company director Perry Winch and co driver Andy Wilmot were at one with the car.
Qualifying saw the car starting 2nd in class and 8th overall, giving Perry and Andy a very good starting point.
The Race was again another faultless performance from both drivers and the Clio, after an hour of racing in their own class and the more powerful class above they finished in 6th place overall only 59 seconds off the lead car, they found themselves in 2nd place in their class behind the same car that qualified just in front of them.

Pictured with their car, Perry Winch (left) and Andy Wilmot (right)
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Perry & Andy with their second in class trophy
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The Clio mixing with the more powerful cars from the class above.
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Spectra Analysis Motorsport - Brands Hatch

On July 27th & 28th company director Perry Winch took part in another round of the MSV Track Day Trophy season at the world famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit.
The Saturday was a new challenge as Perry was new to the car, qualifying 8th and climbing to a 2nd place podium out of a field of 44 cars was a fantastic result.

The challenge continued onto the Sunday with co-driver Andy Wilmot taking part in the Team Trophy event. The day started on another positive note with the car qualifying in 6th place. It was Andy's first opportunity to drive the car in anger around the legendary Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. With both drivers and car performing superbly against a much tougher field of cars they managed to finish the race in 4th place. A hugely positive weekend with the new race car left all at Spectra looking forward to the next race...

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Spectra Analysis Clio Cup Sponsorship

Spectra Analysis are delighted to confirm that our company name will be speeding around UK race circuits on Brett Lidsey's Renault Clio Cup car for the 2013 race series.
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Spectra Analysis Motorsport

On May 11th company director Perry Winch took part in another round of the MSV track day trophy season at Cadwell Park with co-driver Andy Wilmot.
A challenging race in wet conditions was topped off by an overall result of 3rd and 2nd in class.

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Pictured - Perry Winch (left) - Andy Wilmot (right)

Secure Remote Access for Client Data

At Spectra Analysis we have developed a new system that allows our clients to access their asbestos data from anywhere directly from a secure server. With the ability to store PDF data sheets to video tours it will prove invaluable to clients working in the office and out on site. Our demo client log in area is live to show how this could work for your business. For more information please contact us on 01268 534380.

Video Tours & Guide Service Available

We are delighted to now offer video tours and guides to go alongside our detailed asbestos data reports. These can show clients a full and even more detailed view of where asbestos is located allowing clients who have never visited a site the opportunity to visit virtually. For more information please contact us on 01268 534380.

Investors in People

Spectra are proud to announce that they have achieved the Investors in People Bronze Standard.

A Huge thanks to all of our staff for their ongoing assistance and support allowing us to gain this award at our first application , well done team!