Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom - During what he thought was a routine renovation job, Matthew Thompson, 28 was in fact a project that could potentially alter the course of his life. Without knowing, Thompson was stripping a Cheltenham High Street TV shop of its asbestos-laden insulation boards.
As it is in most industrialized nations, for any renovation to take place in a building or structure of a certain age, safety and environmental checks must first take place to look for toxic material like asbestos or lead. If these carcinogenic materials are indeed found then the asbestos must be removed safely and by professionals as per environmental regulations.
In Thompson's case, however, his employer Simon Cooper did not perform any of the checks before work began, and because Cooper's lack of oversight and management, both of the men were placed in a particularly precarious position.
Though it has not been made clear in reports, but it is assumed that Thompson or Cooper did not wear any protective gear while on the site nor did they realize that he needed to do so. By their actions, stripping the building of the asbestos insulation boards, they inadvertently released microscopic asbestos particles into the air where it is easier for the airborne toxin to be inhaled or cling to clothing.
Thompson and Cooper have been both evaluated by doctors, but since their exposure to asbestos was recent, doctors could not predict with any certainty whether either men will later develop asbestos-related diseases. Chief among the asbestos-related diseases is the rare yet deadly mesothelioma cancer that can affect the lungs, heart or abdominal cavity.
Part of the doctor's inability to predict what will happen to the men is that asbestos-related diseases take decades after the asbestos exposure to present symptoms, and typically when symptoms do present, it is usually too late.
“There is nothing the doctors can do until something happens later in life,” said Thompson.