An inquest has heard that a mother of three children developed an incurable cancer after ‘the lightest dusting’ of exposure to asbestos as a teenager.
Penny Jane Garner, 46, died in March this year, after a three-year battle with malignant mesothelioma, a terminal cancer linked to exposure to asbestos.
At an inquest, lung cancer specialist Dr Simon Taggart described the case of Ms Garner as one of the most unusual he has ever seen.
Dr Taggart said Ms Garner may have been exposed to a ‘sudden burst’ of asbestos or could have come into contact with the substance in several places, which had an accumulative effect.
He said: “It’s unusual, but Penny is unusual. She died at 46 and her lungs were healthy. The average age of mesothelioma sufferers in Salford is upwards of 70 years old.
“This is the lightest dusting of exposure I have ever seen.”
Bolton Coroners’ Court heard that Ms Garner was ‘devastated’ when an attempt to sue Salford council and Ardwick-based building firm P McGuinness and Co, which demolished Seedley swimming baths, was unsuccessful.
The seamstress believed demolition of the baths had exposed her to deadly fibres while she was a child playing at neighbouring Seedley Primary School, but a High Court ruling found neither party was responsible.
Ms Garner was initially given antibiotics for pneumonia before doctors discovered she was suffering from mesothelioma.
The inquest heard she may have been exposed to asbestos while working at a textiles factory in her late teens. Deborah Hopwood, who worked with Ms Garner at a factory during the 1980s, said ‘cracked’ floor tiles, clothes presses and heating pipes used at the workplace may have contained asbestos.
Coroner Jennifer Leeming said Ms Garner’s ‘shocking’ death was a result of industrial disease and added: “I was so touched by what you said about Penny and how cruel what had happened to her was.”
Speaking after the inquest, Ms Garner’s mum Jane Garner, 66, said she was shocked her daughter could have developed a terminal illness from such a low exposure to asbestos.
She said: “It’s just so sad that with such a low exposure she passed away.
“She was a lovely, hard working mother, who adored her children and loved her jobs.”
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