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Asbestos - Recent Cases

At least five people die each day from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. It is a very painful illness, particularly in its later stages. A 57-year-old man who had lived a healthy life recently died of the disease as a result of exposure to asbestos more than 30 years ago. In his 20s, Allen Hurst had worked for a few years stripping buildings. The coroner was in no doubt that Mr Hurst died of an industrial disease as there were five years during which he had most probably been exposed to asbestos.

Exposure to asbestos can also be a contributory factor when people die from what at first may seem to be natural causes. Leslie Lee, 83, died after being exposed to asbestos at the Wagon Works factory in Gloucester. The pathologist said that Mr Lee had died suddenly and there was evidence of asbestos exposure and heart disease. Gloucestershire coroner, Alan Crickmore, recorded a verdict of death from an industrial disease because although Mr Lee died because his heart stopped, the propensity to die in this way was increased by the asbestosis.

An inquest at Oxford Coroner's Court found that Constance Mary Gardiner had died of mesothelioma as a result of washing by hand the work clothes of her son and husband. David Gardiner said he used to mix large quantities of asbestos powder with water while working at Kitsons and then later at Apex. His overalls used to get very dusty and his mother would shake them out before washing them. His father had worked as an electrician for Cowley Pressed Steel Company in the 1940s and was also likely to have been exposed to asbestos. 83-year-old Mrs Gardiner had been very fit before she started to feel unwell in the summer of 2002. She developed a tumour on her left lung and died in March 2003.

Asbestos in Schools

Concern is growing at the number of deaths related to exposure to asbestos in schools. The former head teacher of a primary school in Carlisle recently died of mesothelioma. Governors of the school have sought advice from Cumbria County Council on carrying out an asbestos survey of the premises. A former caretaker at the school confirmed that ceilings in the school were made from asbestos tiles.

West Country MP, Geoffrey Cox, has raised the issue of the risks posed to teachers and pupils by asbestos in school buildings with the Education Secretary. This follows the death from mesothelioma in 2000 of art teacher Gina Lees. She used to display pupils' artwork by pinning it to the asbestos ceiling and was exposed to asbestos fibres as a result. Mrs Lees' husband, Michael, is campaigning to raise awareness of the risks from asbestos in schools.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.