A British woman who has succumbed the the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma had no idea how she developed the disease, says her family.
Kathleen Libers was diagnosed with the rare cancer in June 2008 and died in October of that same year. Mesothelioma is usually associated with prolonged or repeated exposure to asbestos, and victims often experience that exposure while on a job-site or at a workplace.
Asbestos is a strong, durable and lightweight mineral material which was commonly used for insulation and fireproofing in a number of industrial and commercial capacities, as it is impervious to fire, heat and electrical conductivity. Asbestos was used extensively in electrical power generating plants, shipyards, forges, oil refineries, factories and other locations where extreme heat is generated or where fire is a hazard. Additionally, asbestos was used in schools and private homes, most commonly in insulation, acoustical ceiling tiles, and other building materials.
When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed – through mining, manufacturing, building, renovating, or destruction – the asbestos particulate can be released into the air. This particulate contains millions of microscopic fibers, some as sharp as needles, which can be inhaled. Once in the human body, they lodge in the lungs, in a special membrane which lines the body’s cavity, and in other soft tissues. They can then develop into the rare, aggressive cancer mesothelioma – although it may take decades before the symptoms of the disease manifest themselves to such a degree that it can be diagnosed. The majority of mesothelioma cases are not diagnosed until the disease has reached late stages, at which point treatment is generally ineffective.
Libers’s family believes that she may have been exposed to asbestos at the Co-operative Bake House in Barrow, where she began working as an apprentice confectioner at age 15. Libers worked at the Bake House from 1936 to 1964, and solicitors representing her husband and son are asking anyone who may have worked with her and have information about the working conditions, to contact them.