THE number of people dying in Torfaen from asbestos-related lung cancer is the second worst in Wales and higher than the UK average, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

A total of 116 people in Wales died from mesothelioma last year, which was an increase from 95 in 2001.

Mesothelioma is a cancerous tumour of the mesothelium, the lining of some of the major organs. The risk of developing mesothelioma increases with the amount of asbestos someone has been exposed to.

The mortality rate for the disease in Torfaen is higher than the UK average and second only to the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, with 5.4 deaths per 100,000 people. The UK average is 4.5 deaths per 100,000.

The next highest figure in Gwent is Newport, with 3.6 deaths per 100,000 people, while there were 3.1 deaths per 100,000 people in Monmouthshire and 2.8 deaths per 100,000 in Blaenau Gwent.

Despite Blaenau Gwent recording the lowest figure in Gwent, Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies said much needs to be done to compensate affected families.

He said: “We recognise the impact of asbestos in people in Blaenau Gwent and in wider parts of Wales.

“We have to make sure that treatments are available for these people when they need them the most.

“It’s something we’ve been very concerned about for a long time. It’s something we want to have recognised."

Richard Green, specialist asbestos lawyer at Hugh James, added: “It is anticipated that the number of people killed by this terrible cancer will continue to increase for the next five years with mesothelioma deaths expected to peak in 2020.

“It is notable that an increased incidence has occurred in areas South Wales which has a strong industrial heritage.

“Asbestos was widely used in the power stations, steel works and chemical plants across South Wales and we are now seeing many of the men who worked in these industries sadly being diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos related conditions.

“The latency period between asbestos exposure and contraction of mesothelioma is long – commonly between 25 and 50 years – meaning that many former workers who were exposed to asbestos are now contracting the disease.

“It is estimated more than 60,000 people will die over the next 30 years as a result of the cancer, with the region expected to be among the hardest hit.”