Wife killed by asbestos on husband's clothes
A WIFE who washed her husband's asbestos-covered work clothes for a decade died because she was exposed to the deadly dust – even though he was not affected.
Every week, Jill Bolstridge would shake off the dirt from overalls worn by her husband James – who worked at Derby engineering firm S Robinson and Sons – before putting them in the washing machine.
The 56-year-old had been in good health until last May, when she started becoming out of breath and was given an inhaler, an inquest heard.
Doctors confirmed she was suffering from a malignant mesothelioma of the pleura – an asbestos-related cancer affecting the lining of the lungs – and she had major surgery.
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But Mrs Bolstridge, of Athol Close, Sinfin, died in October, two days after her family helped her put together a statement about her condition – which was read out at the inquest.
After the hearing, her daughter Carla, 22, paid tribute to her mother. She said: "My mum was a loving, affectionate, warm and a beautifully-giving woman who was always willing to put others before her.
"She was strong role-model to her sons and daughters and was highly dedicated as a carer to one of her sons, who has severe special needs.
"She was also regularly helping out her own mum, was keen on sewing and knitting and had a love for animals.
"My mum was greatly loved and is missed by her family and friends."
She also had sons Paul, 38, Earl, 34, and Natalya, 21.
South Derbyshire Coroner's Court heard how Mr Bolstridge started working at the construction company, off Ascot Drive, in 1981. He told the inquest his job initially included sweeping up in the asbestos yard and moving asbestos sheeting.
He was later promoted and worked on a press indoors but his work bench was near doors to the yard and, he said, dust would blow through and settle on his bench.
He described how early in his career he would go to work in his old clothes before he was later supplied with a one-piece overall.
Mr Bolstridge, 62, said: "There was no cleaning system. It was a matter of taking them home and my wife used to clean them for me."
In later years, he said, this was changed so that overalls were sent to cleaners in Nottingham but, for 10 years, his wife washed them.
"She shook them to get as much of the dust off as possible before putting them in the washing machine," he recalled.
The inquest also heard how Mr Bolstridge would take off his clothes in the kitchen and Mrs Bolstridge would shake them before putting them in the washer.
In her statement, which was read out at the court, Mrs Bolstridge said the clothes were "dirty and dusty".
She said: "I could easily have inhaled some of the dust from Jim's working clothes.
"Thinking about this in detail now, my face would not be far away from the clothes I was shaking. I did this week in, week out, for years."
She also said in her statement how she had been out shopping one day last May when she was suddenly out of breath. She said she "panicked" and "had to sit down".
Despite being given an inhaler, her condition became worse and, following a chest x-ray, fluid was discovered on her lungs.
She said: "I was warned right from the outset it could be something sinister."
Doctors asked her if she had worked with asbestos and she told them how she had washed her husband's work clothes, before she received the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma.
Mrs Bolstridge added: "I had never heard of the condition before."
After describing the operation she underwent two months later on her chest, she said in her statement: "Hopefully, the surgeon has extended my life."
She died three months later at Royal Derby Hospital.
Mrs Bolstridge was born in Derby and left school at the age of 17. Her father, who was Polish, worked in mines in France.
In 1972, she joined Leys Malleable Castings, in Derby, as a purchasing clerk.
She met her husband in the same year and they first lived together in Byron Street, Derby. Mrs Bolstridge left work when pregnant with her first child.
Dr Andrew Hitchcock, consultant pathologist at the Royal Derby Hospital, said a postmortem examination revealed Mrs Bolstridge's right lung was incased in scar tissue and there was a pleural-based tumour "in keeping with malignant mesothelioma".
When asked if the cause of her death was in keeping with it being asbestos-related, he said: "Yes".
Assistant deputy coroner Paul McCandless said it was of "extreme importance" he should record a verdict of death due to the industrial disease of malignant mesothelioma of the pleura.
He said: "Even though this is as a result of secondary exposure, it is an opportunity for such a verdict."
He added that recording a verdict of accidental death would not "properly convey the importance" of the background to Mrs Bolstridge's death, while the verdict of misadventure would not accurately describe her normal routine.