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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

"Asbestos to blame for my lung cancer" – Somerset woman

A Crewkerne woman says the asbestos dust present at a care unit in which she worked for 4 years caused her to contract lung cancer.

In December 2012, Doreen Gain was diagnosed with mesothelioma: a cancer of the lung lining which the 71 year-old thinks is a by-product of when she worked for the Bowhayes Lodge care home, in Crewkerne, from 1995 to 1998.

Deteriorating Health

In March 2014 Mrs Gain told local journalists that she believed washing asbestos fibres from her husband's work clothes could have caused the disease.

However, with Mrs Gain's health declining to such an extent she cannot breathe without an extra oxygen supply, further enquiries have revealed another possible reason.

"I remember the suspended ceiling [at Bowhayes] with the asbestos ceiling tiles," Mrs Gain said.

"Maintenance men had to move the tiles from time to time to access the service pipes behind the tiles and also to change the strip lights. I noticed that there were two maintenance men constantly working on the premises.

Regular Maintenance Work could have Disturbed Dust

"I also remember the maintenance men going in and out of the boiler house which is likely to have contained asbestos-lagged pipework… asbestos dust and fibres could have been transported around the premises."

Prior to its UK ban in 1999, use of asbestos was common in the building trade for the material's fire-retardant and insulation properties. Inhalation of the fibres, which can be disturbed during maintenance work in older buildings, is known to cause fatal diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

When Mrs Gain worked at Bowhayes, the facility's owner was South Somerset District Council. In 1999 the unit was transferred to Yarlington Housing Group.

Reassurance for Staff and Residents

Residents and staff of Bowhayes were assured that no asbestos is present at the Lodge.

Yarlington's health and safety manager Paul Bullows said that following testing, a report found that "no asbestos-containing materials" remained on the premises.

"There is no reason for residents to be concerned or worried that they are at risk from asbestos at Bowhayes Lodge," Mr Bullows said.

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