LETTER: Asbestos is a timebomb

Some of you will remember the devastating fire that happened 12 years ago at Tideway School, now Seahaven Academy.

I was a teacher at the time, and took voluntary redundancy as it was so difficult to carry out science teaching effectively in the huts so speedily provided by ESCC.

It’s good to see that the school has risen from the ashes.

On a sombre note though, despite the precautionary measures taken by the council, which were very thorough, we were exposed to danger from the dust containing asbestos.

In fact anyone in the area who had dust from the fire settle in their garden was at risk.

The latency period for mesothelioma, the worst disease resulting from asbestos which at present invariably fatal, is between 15 and 60 years.

So this is a timebomb that may affect some of us for nearly 50 years.

My union, the NUT, campaigns for all asbestos to be removed from schools in the next 10 years.

Many teachers have died of this dreadful disease, but we really have no idea how many children are going to succumb in the future. So what can be done?

Well, please get involved in the fight to make our children safe from this scourge.

And on a personal level: there are great medical advances happening. I have met a survivor of mesothelioma who was still in reasonable health five years after her diagnosis, probably due to the wonderful medical care provided by the pioneering team at Bart’s Hospital.

Like any cancer, early diagnosis is crucial. Sadly, the early symptoms of mesothelioma are very non-specific – similar to many other chest conditions.

But I urge you to tell your GP if you have any such symptoms and think you have been exposed to asbestos at any time in your life. A cure will be found – it’s just a matter of time.

Val Cane

Queens Park Road, Brighton