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July 17, 2018

Inquest hears three family members died from asbestos-related cancer

Two brothers and a sister died from a rare form of cancer related to asbestos exposure, an inquest has heard.

At the inquest into the death of 65-year-old Charlie Glass from Broadford Rise, Ballinteer, Dublin 16, who passed away from asbestos-related cancer at St Vincent’s Hospital on September 14th of last year, the Dublin coroner heard that his brother and sister also died as a result of exposure to fibres of the dangerous substance.

All three were separately exposed to asbestos. His son, David Glass, told the court that his father had worked cutting asbestos sheets at Brooks Thomas building providers in the mid-1960s. This was work he did for three-four years from the age of 14. His uncle was exposed while working as a pipefitter in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s while his aunt had come into contact with asbestos while washing her builder husband’s clothing, also in Australia.

All three died from a mesothelioma, a tumour around the lungs which has a more than 90 per cent association with asbestos exposure.

Charlie Glass was diagnosed with the tumour in October 2009 having gone to a VHI Swiftcare Clinic when he hurt his ribs in a fall at work. Doctors there felt X-rays showed more fluid on his lungs than could be explained by the fall and he was sent for further tests. Initial CT scans did not reveal the presence of cancer and the fluid was drained. However, it subsequently built back up and further scans showed he had developed a mesothelioma.

Charlie Glass did not realise that he had been exposed to asbestos until he was discussing his diagnosis with doctors. It was then that he recalled cutting the asbestos sheets.

“They were cutting asbestos sheets for fire doors. It is fire retardant so, at the time, it was seen as ideal,” said his son. There was no protective gear worn when they were working on the sheets and no awareness of the dangers involved. “They would often have lunch in the same area they were working in,” he told the coroner.

David Glass said when his father was diagnosed he was told that he would have 11 months left. “He ended up getting around four years,” he said.

Doctors considered Charlie Glass, who was a fit man, to be a candidate for radical intervention and he was sent to London where he underwent chemotherapy and surgery. He returned to Ireland and had another two-to-three years of good health but scans subsequently confirmed the cancer had returned. He died on September 14th, 2013, following a deterioration in his health.

The presence of a disseminated mesothelioma was confirmed at autopsy and “numerous asbestos bodies were identified in the lungs”, said coroner Dr Brian Farrell. He said it was “very unfortunate” that the three siblings had died from such a rare cancer.

He returned a verdict of death by occupational related disease.

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Inquest hears three family members died from asbestos-related cancer

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