HUNDREDS of people have died from asbestos-related cancer over the last four decades - which a family member of a mesothelioma victim has labelled 'unsurprising'.

Asbestos-related cancer has claimed the lives of more than 300 people in Barrow over almost four decades, new figures reveal.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, a type of cancer which affects the lining of some organs, including the lungs.

Health and Safety Executive data shows the disease was responsible for 319 deaths in Barrow between 1981 and 2019 – the latest available figures.

Of those, 30 occurred between 2015 and 2019 – 22 fewer than in 2010-14.

The figures also show the mesothelioma death rate among men in Barrow – taking age differences into account – is higher than across Great Britain as a whole.

Daltonian Diane Mackereth's dad Bill died from the condition two years ago after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma around 18 months before.

His brother, Brian, also sadly died of mesothelioma around 10 years ago.

Ms Mackereth is seeking answers on how he developed the illness that claimed his life - and is 'unsurprised' by the above average asbestos death rates in Barrow.

She said: "Unfortunately I'm not surprised by the figures. That generation are sadly passing away now and it's coming to light more the amount of people affected by asbestos.

"It takes a long time to take effect - often until it's too late people are diagnosed, like my dad.

"The fact people aren't made aware of the risks is the issue.

"It was such a shock to us as a family - dad couldn't understand where he'd got it from.

"There's still a perception that it just affects people who work on roofs but that's not true - it can affect anyone.

"We shouldn't still be seeing deaths related to this in 20 years time because workplaces should be adhering to health and safety laws. If we are, that's when we need to hold these places to account.

"Hopefully we should start to see a decline in these numbers."

MPs have launched an inquiry into how asbestos is being managed across the UK after serious safety concerns were raised.

The Work and Pensions Committee, which launched the inquiry, said that despite the importation, supply and use of asbestos being banned in the UK since 1999, it remains the largest single cause of work-related fatalities.