A rare and deadly asbestos-related cancer has killed at least one person a year in Hyndburn over the past three decades.
A total of 40 people died from mesothelioma - a cancer strongly linked to asbestos exposure - between 1981 to 2011.
New figures show that the cancer killed 32 men and eight women over that time. And a top coroner says the number of people dying of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, is due to peak within the next 12 months.
Michael Singleton, coroner for Blackburn and Hyndburn, said he has seen a ‘gradual increase’ in cases during his 20 years on the job.
He said: “The incidents of mesothelioma should peak around about this year or next year and there after should show a gradual decline.
“That is in line with when we became aware of the risks of exposure to asbestos. Over the 20 years I have been doing the job, I have seen a gradual increase.”
Mr Singleton said he sees around 15 to 20 such deaths a year.
He said: “Mesothelioma is a disease that lies dormant and can do for 40 years or more and can be asymptomatic.
“People who develop it may have been exposed to asbestos 30 years ago but it can suddenly flare up and become very debilitating. I’m told it will reach its peak within the next 12 months or so.
“My experience would seem to mirror that.”