A coroner has warned of a “ticking timebomb” relating to deaths connected with asbestos exposure.
Michael Singleton, who is the senior coroner for Hyndburn, said the number of deaths from the incurable cancer mesothelioma is continuing to rise despite experts predicting a decline from 2014.
Mr Singleton’s stark warning came following the conclusion of an inquest into the death of Oswaldtwistle man Trevor Brennand who was exposed to asbestos during his working life.
The 72-year-old, of Ward Avenue, died on July 11 this year after a lung biopsy found malignant mesothelioma.
The inquest at Blackburn Coroners Court heard Mr Brennand had previously worked as a joiner at RP Townley Ltd in Accrington between 1959 and 1965 and used to cut asbestos sheets as an apprentice to lay girders and for bespoke fire doors.
In a statement made during his life by Mr Brennand in respect of a civil claim read at the hearing, he said: “I was not exposed to asbestos every week but overall I would estimate I was exposed to asbestos for an overall period of about one month out of every year and I believe this was my most significant exposure to asbestos.”
Mr Brennand later worked at Shop Fitters Lancashire Ltd in Oswaldtwistle between 1965 and 1988 and was again exposed to asbestos as he used it to cover radiators and for suspended ceilings, the hearing was told.
Mr Singleton ruled that Mr Brennand died from the occupational disease of mesothelioma.
He told the inquest: “It seems quite remarkable that something we were doing 30, 40, or even 50 years ago, which at the time we seemed to think was some sort of miracle substance, because of its ability in terms of conductivity and insulation, that it took many decades for anyone to suddenly think ‘hang on a minute, maybe there are problems here’.
“I was told by those who are far more learned than I that we would see a peak of cases around 2014 followed by a gradual dropping off.
"I have to say that’s not my experience. In this part of the world at least, the number of cases continues to rise.
"Which leads me to the conclusion that there were many people who were exposed to asbestos that are walking around like ticking time bombs.
“What it makes me wonder is what are we doing now that in 20 or 30 years time we will be saying ‘Really? We allowed people to do that?’”