Asbestos tragedy of wife who developed Mesothelioma after washing husband’s overalls

An inquest into the death of Saltburn woman Mary Pointer in April this year has established that she died of mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mrs Pointer, who was 86, is thought to have contracted the disease from inhaling asbestos from her late husband’s clothes. Her husband, Ronald Pointer, worked at Marchwood Power Station in Southampton between 1955 and 1970. The Evening Gazette reports that she washed and shook dust from his overalls and bedding every day and it is believed that this is how the asbestos was able to get into her lungs.

Mrs Pointer had started a legal case before her death in relation to exposure to asbestos. It is now being continued by their son, who, speaking to the Evening Gazette said, ‘it won’t just be affecting my mum; it will be affecting other people’s loved ones too’. He urged his father’s former colleagues and anyone with information about the working conditions at the power station to come forward.

Cases of the disease being diagnosed many years after the victim has been exposed to asbestos are not unusual, as it develops slowly and symptoms often do not arise until much later. In 2007, Charlie Cochran from Acklam, Middlesbrough, was awarded £150,000 in compensation after contracting mesothelioma. He had worked in a Tyneside naval yard, and later a chemical plant in Teesside, both of which had exposed him to asbestos. Cancer Research UK believe that cases of asbestos related mesothelioma will continue to rise, due to the length of time since the incidences of asbestos exposure in industry, and the time it takes for the disease to develop.

Anthony McCarthy, Head of Industrial Disease Litigation at Macks said ‘Mrs Pointer’s tragic case goes to show that the hideous disease of mesothelioma is not just contracted by those who worked with asbestos. It can also affect those who had less direct contact such as spouses and family members’.


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