Last Updated on 27th October 2016 by Kirsty Smithson
New fears have emerged after people working at the time of the IRA bomb Manchester in 1996 have gone on to develop asbestos-related cancer.
It is believed they inhaled dust containing asbestos in the weeks following the bomb blast while taking part in the huge clean up.
The bombing took place in Manchester City Centre and caused total devastation to the city, but remarkably no-one actually died which is a miracle in itself.
But it is feared that as a result of the blast, the IRA bombers may have left another ticking timebomb in the form of asbestos-related cancer.
The asbestos dust particles that were released into the atmosphere following the blast have already been linked to the death of a security guard, Stuart Packard, who sadly died last year at the young age of 40.
He worked for three weeks in the aftermath of the bombing helping to clear up the devastation that was left behind in the city centre.
Stuart died of mesothelioma which is a terminal lung cancer caused directly by asbestos.
Mesothelioma can lay undetected in the human system for many years with no symptoms or side effects following the initial exposure to asbestos.
It can take at least 35 years for any symptoms to show and be diagnosed, so now experts are fearing that there could be many more cases and subsequent deaths in the years to come following the Manchester bombing in 1996.
It has been revealed that Asbestos insulation boards were used when building the Manchester Arndale centre, and as asbestos was so widely used as a building material at the time, it is more than likely that it was used in the construction of other buildings in the city centre too.
A whole host of people could have been affected to include the emergency services that arrived on the scene such as Police officers and Paramedics, and shop and office workers may also have been exposed to deadly asbestos fibers as a result of the bombing.
Researchers claim that Mesothelioma kills an estimated 4,000 people each year in the UK.
Many people never actually contract the cancer following exposure to asbestos fibers, but other people can contract Mesothelioma after only being exposed for a few hours to the dust particles.
Graham Dring, of Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group admitted there could be more victims following on from the IRA bombing.
“Given it’s only 20 years, its possible,” he stated. “It’s important not to scare people who were covered in dust to say they are going to end up with mesothelioma.
But there is a possibility there may be more cases coming in the future given the problem of asbestos fibers released as a result of the IRA bomb Manchester.”
Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group sees around 300 new cases each year, half of these cases being people with mesothelioma while the remaining cases are lung cancer and asbestosis sufferers.
Asbestos exposure can mean the disease lies dormant for anywhere between 20 to 60 years, but once diagnosed then the average life-expectancy is just twelve months after diagnosis.
Mr Dring said: “It can be a very painful, distressing disease with increased breathlessness.
Palliative care like chemotherapy can extend life but there is no cure.
In fact, there’s very little money going into research for mesothelioma, unfortunately.”
Other highlighted cases include a former anti-terror officer who happened to be one of the first people on the scene of the Brighton bombing back in 1984.
He died last year from mesothelioma after he inhaled asbestos while working through the aftermath at the site 31 years earlier.
A former Metropolitan Police detective, Jonathan Woods, was also exposed to asbestos after he arrived at the Grand Hotel on October 12 in 1984 after an IRA bomb explosion ripped through the building.
Stuart Packard, who died following the IRA bomb Manchester, is thought to have come into contact with carcinogenic dust which was caused by demolition work that took place as part of the clean up operation following the bombing.
The family of Mr Packard are now pursuing a civil claim for compensation as they believe he was not properly protected.
His wife Julie Barrett said: “Stuart is so badly missed, he was so young. If the bomb hadn’t happened, he would likely still be alive.”
“This disease just came back to get him so many years later. We all live with the threat of terrorism now every day – and it was terrorism all those years ago that caused his tragic death.”
Mr Packard was working as a Health and Safety Officer for the Ministry of Defence at the time he was involved in the clean up of the city after the bomb.
He only found out he was ill in March 2015 as a result of him suddenly losing weight and feeling tired and out of breath all the time.
Following tests, Doctors soon discovered he was suffering from mesothelioma.
Stuarts’s Father-in-law, Rod Barrett, said: “He said he remembered the demolition ball knocking down buildings right behind him and there being dust and rubble everywhere.
When he was diagnosed with the disease, he thought back to when he could have been exposed to asbestos dust and it all fell into place.”
Peter Williams, the family’s lawyer, said: “Mesothelioma usually attacks people at retirement age, but Mr Packard was only 40 when he died, which makes this case even more tragic.”
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting https://www.armco.org.uk/.
Alternatively call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for enquiries or to book a training course.
Published Jul 11, 2016