An acutely-ill Essex woman is looking to raise awareness of the dangers of contracting terminal diseases related to asbestos.
Annette Turnball is suffering from mesothelioma, a malignant cancer of the lung linings which can remain undetected for up to 50 years.
Regular asbestos exposure at work caused illness
During the 1970s, Mrs Turnball worked at a Harlow print factory, where the 63-year-old believes she was regularly exposed to toxic fibres.
Despite the 40-year gap, Mrs Turnball learned only last year she was suffering from mesothelioma, a variant of which struck down her husband at about the same period.
Long latency – then kills within months
Mesothelioma often kills within a few months of diagnosis, as Simpson Millar's head of industrial disease Emma Costin explained.
"It is provenly caused by the inhalation of fibres from asbestos, a building material once popular for its insulation and fire-retardant properties," Emma said.
"Although asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, the material remains present in many thousands of old buildings and facilities, from shipyards and factories to domestic dwellings."
"Check your homes"
During the 1950s development of Harlow, asbestos was commonly used in the construction of industrial premises and houses. Now Mrs Turnball is pressing residents of the Essex new town and elsewhere to conduct thorough searches of their properties.
Disease dormant for 40 years
Mrs Turnball spoke of the shock she felt when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
"It was something that laid dormant for such a long time but it has now reared its ugly head 40 years later," Mrs Turnball said.
"It started off when I was breathing rapidly and I thought I had anxiety, but when I went to see a doctor I was told I had mesothelioma."
Describing the cancer as a silent killer for which no cure is available, Mrs Turnball added: "It is weakening my body and I'm having to use a walking frame to get around."
Awareness should be raised immediately
Mrs Turnball has received medical support from St Clare Hospice, which in January mounted a presentation afternoon designed to heighten knowledge of the dangers of mesothelioma.
Concerned that the disease could strike others in her family without warning, Mrs Turnball said: "Removing asbestos is expensive and difficult and everyone should be aware of how deadly it is. I want to raise awareness of this issue."