A man has died from asbestos-related disease decades after being exposed to the material for just two days. Michael Davies had helped to dismantle roofing containing the substance in 1978.
Mr Davies, who was 60 and lived in Pattingham in South Staffordshire, died on 18th September from mesothelioma – a rare and aggressive cancer that is caused by breathing in asbestos fibres. The cancer develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.
Officer Andrew Heathcote read out a statement from Mr Davies’ family at Cannock Coroners Court.
It read: “After graduating in 1978 in Swansea Mr Davies had no permanent employment and it appears he survived by doing odd jobs.
“He remembered his friend Tony returning from the Job Centre to say there was a job clearing asbestos in a factory in Swansea.
“He thought the opportunity was too good to turn down and signed up. But after just two days dismantling roofs, he gave it up.”
Symptoms appear decades after asbestos exposure
Mr Davies reported this asbestos exposure in July. However, the period between exposure to this harmful material and diagnosis of mesothelioma can be anywhere between 20 to 60 years. The initial exposure happens many years before symptoms begin to show which can in some cases be of very short duration. Unlike other asbestos diseases, mesothelioma is not ‘dose related’. It is possible to develop mesothelioma as a result of short periods of exposure to asbestos.
South Staffordshire Coroner, Mr Andrew Haigh, said: “I have been told Michael was only 60 when he died, which is a relatively young age to die.
“He was an active man, had a responsible job in social services and was part of the community in Pattingham.
“After he had obtained his degree in Swansea in the late-1970s, he had a job for a couple of days removing asbestos. He reported this to the chest physician, who said they would expect there to be longer exposure than just a couple of days.
“There is no doubt that Mr Davies died as a result of mesothelioma and no doubt that this was a result from exposure to asbestos.
“What is more difficult is when the exposure occurred, and the time that he was working in Swansea is the only exposure I have been told about.
“Therefore, on the balance of probabilities, I conclude Mr Davies died of industrial disease.”
People who have worked with or have been exposed to asbestos are most at risk of developing mesothelioma. The life expectancy for patients with mesothelioma is poor as there is currently no known cure for the disease.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Early symptoms of mesothelioma can include chest or abdominal pain, bloating and shortness of breath, depending on the location of the cancer. Because early-stage signs can be minimum, doctors often mistake them as normal aches and pains or symptoms of less serious illnesses. Other symptoms can include pain in the side of the chest or lower back, cough, fever, excessive sweating, fatigue, weight loss (without trying), trouble swallowing (feeling like food gets stuck), hoarseness and swelling of the face and arms.
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