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Asbestos exposure blamed for death of retired carpenter, inquest rules

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: September 21, 2012

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A RETIRED carpenter who was found dead in his bath with a knife died as the result of asbestos exposure, an inquest heard on Tuesday.

Raymond Bowden, of Grosvenor Place in St Austell, said he had worked with asbestos without protective clothing or masks for decades at various companies as a carpenter and builder.

"The asbestos would be like a cloud around me," said a statement read at the inquest, which was written by Mr Bowden before his death. "I had no choice but to inhale the dust."

The inquest heard how Mr Bowden had a history of breathlessness, was diagnosed with asbestosis in June 2011 and before his death his breathing had become so bad he had to stop halfway through sentences.

Asbestosis is a scarring of the lung tissue from an acid produced by the body's attempt to dissolve asbestos fibres.

"It badly affected him," said his daughter Carol Berry in a statement read at the inquest.

"My father was generally fit and healthy, and a sportsman. He played golf until very late in his life."

The 83-year-old was found dead on January 29 by Cornwall Council care worker Charmaine Floyd-Norris.

He was wearing a vest and pants in the bath at his bungalow, with his head above the water.

In a statement read aloud at the inquest, Ms Floyd-Norris said the tap was still running, so she turned it off, but the bath was not overflowing.

The inquest heard, at Truro Coroners' Court, heard that there was a knife between his legs, facing upwards, and he had four superficial cuts on his inner left arm.

However, pathologist Robert Marshall said these did not contribute to his death.

Ms Floyd-Norris said she called 999 before pulling the plug in the bath. Emergency services arrived shortly after.

Dr Emma Carlyon, Coroner for Cornwall, concluded that Mr Bowden died as the result of pulmonary fibrosis (a lung disease), due to asbestos exposure during his employment.

Dr Marshall said that in autopsy his lungs showed "acute and chronic damage" and there was evidence of asbestos in them.

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