Suffolk pensioner exposed to asbestos for up to 30 years as carpenter

Former Suffolk carpenter Edward Balls

Edward Balls has spoken about living with the effects of exposure to asbestos - Credit: Picture supplied by Edward Balls

A former Suffolk carpenter living with an asbestos-related disease has spoken out on his condition to raise awareness of the dangers of exposure to the substance.

Edward Balls, from Bury St Edmunds, was diagnosed with asbestosis, a long-term inflammation and scarring of the lungs, linked to exposure to asbestos dust and fibres, in 2017.

The 81-year-old instructed law firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether or not he could have come into contact with asbestos while working for a local construction firm for approximately 30 years from the 1950s.  

His job as a carpenter involved cutting, sawing and drilling asbestos sheets.

During a two-day hearing in March, the High Court considered whether or not exposure to the substance had caused him to develop asbestosis.

The court ruled that Mr Balls had been exposed to asbestos during his employment and that, on the balance of probabilities, the regular exposure to asbestos caused him to develop asbestosis. 

The court also noted that asbestosis was a cumulative condition, not formally diagnosed until 2017, and that the personal injury claim was, therefore, within the statutory three-year limitation period.

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Samantha Shaw, specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Edward’s case is yet another reminder of the terrible legacy left behind by asbestos, with many people going on to develop illness several decades after exposure.

“While there is nothing that can be done to change what Edward is going through, we are pleased that this judgment will ensure he has access to the care he needs and he has protection for the future if his condition worsens.

Mr Balls said: “I used to be quite fit and active, and enjoyed cycling or going for daily walks with my wife, but I can’t even walk short distances now without becoming breathless. It’s so upsetting and I know that it’ll only get worse.

“I know there’s no way I’ll ever be rid of this, but at least I now have some assurance that I will get the treatment I need, now and in the future.

"It’s a terrible condition to live with and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.”