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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


This story is truly shocking: a woman whose father worked with asbestos when she was a child is sueing the MoD for £75,000 after having contracted an asbestos-related cancer, she believes, from him.

The headline “Woman claims hugging gave her cancer” seems to make an absurdity of her claim at first, which was what first drew my attention to the story.
However, upon reading, the story becomes horribly tragic, and demonstrates just how utterly heinous a substance asbestos truly is. According to an industrial disease specialist (granted, working for the woman’s solicitors, but bear with it) it is entirely possible the woman DID in fact develop her illness due to proximity to her father (who himself died of the same asbestos-related, small cell lung cancer, mesothelioma). This is not, it would seem, the first case of its kind.

The 47 year old woman’s condition is terminal, she has never come into contact with asbestos in any other way, and it is understood that ‘cases of mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lung, can lie dormant for 40 years before surfacing’.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s a tale without much redemption…

‘[Debra Brewer’s] father, Phillip Northmore, worked as a lagger at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth for five years in the 1960s when she was a child.
Mrs Brewer said she remembered he would always arrive home from work covered in dust but as a young child she never imagined that as she played with her dad, the dust he was coated in could be life-threatening.
She said she first started having breathing difficulties in 1994 but was not diagnosed with mesothelioma until November last year.
John Messham, industrial disease specialist at Debra's solicitor Bond Pearce, said he had spoken to other woman who had been exposed to asbestos in the same way and now had an asbestos-related disease.
"Most have never knowingly come into contact with asbestos other than through washing clothes," he said. "It is a terrible shock for the families involved and I am seeing more and more inquiries of this nature."
It is understood cases of mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lung, can lie dormant for 40 years before surfacing.’

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