Mesothelioma Death Raises Concerns Over Workplace in Birmingham

Birmingham, England—A former plant worker has been diagnosed with the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma, leading to speculation that there could be hundreds of additional cases in other workers from the same facility.

Kelvin Parker, 54, was diagnosed in August 2007 with malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer which is nearly always linked to previous exposure to the toxic mineral asbestos. Parker died in November 2008. Sandwell Coroner Robin Balmain issued a verdict of death due to industrial disease.

Parker is believed to have suffered the exposure to asbestos-containing materials in the 1970s and 1980s, when he worked for TIS Modular Structures, on a long-term contract at a Rover Longbridge site, fitting suspended ceilings.

In a lawsuit which he filed before his death, and which his family has vowed to continue pursuing, Parker claimed that his employers did not provide him with masks, respirators or protective clothing, and that they failed to warn him about the hazards of the asbestos with which he worked.

Asbestos, well known for its insulation and fireproofing capabilities, also happens to be extremely strong and durable. It can be mixed with many different materials, including concrete, plastics, fabric and metals, and has been widely employed in industrial workplaces during the majority of the twentieth century. It can pose a severe health problem to workers in those facilities, however, when it becomes broken or instable; when this happens, the microscopic fibers become respirable and then burrow deep into the lungs and mesothelium – a sheath covering and protecting the body’s organs. This can lead to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that can take up to 50 years to develop and become symptomatic.

Solicitors from the firm representing Parker’s family have warned that there may be hundreds of additional diagnoses of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in other Longbridge workers, and are asking anyone who worked with Parker in the past to step forward with any information they may have.