A 73-year-old grandfather from St Neots has achieved a cash settlement after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs, caused by exposure to asbestos early on in his working life.
The exposure took place while he was working for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), which was founded in 1957 and was responsible for electricity generation in England and Wales until the industry was privatised in the 1990s.
He began working for the CEGB when he was 16 and served a five-year apprenticeship, between 1962 and 1967, working at two power stations in Hackney carrying out repairs and maintenance work. During this time, his work required him to knock the asbestos lagging off pipework, which caused the substance to disintegrate, filling the air with harmful asbestos dust and fibres. Asbestos fibres can be 50 to 200 times thinner than a human hair, are often invisible to the eye and can float in the air for long periods, so can easily be breathed into the lungs.
Exposure to even very small amounts of asbestos can cause mesothelioma, and the time from the initial exposure to the development of symptoms is usually between 20 and 50 years. The prognosis for those diagnosed with the disease is invariably poor.
It wasn't until 2017 that the man noticed he was often short of breath. His GP referred him for an X-ray, and further tests confirmed the diagnosis. He was given chemotherapy and the cash settlement has enabled him to undergo private immunotherapy treatment, whereby drugs are used to stimulate the patient's immune system to kill mesothelioma cells. Immunotherapy has proved successful in the treatment of other cancers and is currently in clinical trials for its potential to treat mesothelioma.
The settlement will also fund any further treatment he needs that is not available on the NHS and pay for the care and support that will enable him to live as normal a life as possible.
Information on asbestos health and safety can be found on the Health and Safety Executive's website.