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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Walney man died after years of work with asbestos

EXPOSURE to asbestos was partly to blame for a carpenter’s death, an inquest heard.

James Thomson, of West Shore Park, Walney, died in Furness General Hospital on September 27 this year.

The inquest into the 72-year-old’s death heard he regularly worked with asbestos during his working life.

The post mortem report revealed the immediate cause of death was a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot.

Mr Ian Smith, South and East Cumbria coroner, said this was typically a way in which a malignancy killed someone.

Mr Thomson’s son, Lee Michael Martin, told the hearing in Barrow Town Hall that his father used to smoke but stopped around 25 years ago and was in good general health, having had his troublesome knees replaced.

He said Mr Thomson worked in Barrow shipyard, at Govan in Glasgow and various construction companies, and had told him working with asbestos was “a regular occurrence” on building sites in the 1970s.

Mr Smith said the pathologist had found pleural plaques in Mr Thomson’s lungs, but there was no direct evidence of asbestos.

The pathologist had looked for asbestos fragments in the lungs but was unable to find any.

But Mr Smith said: “It can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s not proof that they weren’t there.

“It’s not possible in his view to say in certainty that the lung cancer was caused by the asbestos, or certainly by the asbestos alone.

“Asbestos is a factor, but not the only factor.”

Summing up, Mr Smith told the inquest on Friday: “Was the cancer caused by asbestos exposure? Probably. Partially, not fully.

“The risk of getting cancer if you smoke and have contact with asbestos is much greater than if you only had one or the other. The fact he smoked historically is relevant to his condition.”

He recorded a verdict of death by a combination of natural causes and industrial disease.

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