A FORMER factory worker fears her health has suffered as a result of the conditions she used to work in.
Sandra Anne Peterson, née Raine, from South Shields, was diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in April last year.
The 57-year-old believes she was exposed to the deadly dust as a teenager working at Filtrona UK and Plessy’s in the 1970s.
She is now appealing for ex-colleagues to come forward, and help identify how she came into contact with asbestos.
Mrs Peterson said: “It is absolutely heartbreaking to think my illness may have been caused by working at these factories when I was a teenager.
“I was completely unaware of how dangerous asbestos could be back then.” The grandmother-of-three has joined forces with specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the working conditions she endured.
She worked for Filtrona UK on the Bede Industrial Estate, South Shields, from 1973 to 1975, and was responsible for making paper cigarette filters.
She believes the ‘slurry’, or coating, used in the manufacturing process contained asbestos fibres.
“The job was really dirty, and my overalls, face and hands got covered in fine, black dust – it even got up my nose and in my hair,” she said.
“I believe it contained the asbestos fibres which have made me sick.”
She also believes asbestos was commonly used to insulate electrical components at Plessy’s in Eldon Street, South Shields, where she worked from 1975 to 1976.
Before she fell ill, Mrs Peterson used to enjoy swimming, Zumba classes, riding her bike and walking holidays in the Lake District. Now she struggles to walk, and needs help from her husband with jobs around the house.
Roger Maddocks, a partner in the industrial illness team at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said: “Asbestos-related diseases are the biggest occupational killer of all time, and it can take decades for victims like Sandra to develop debilitating conditions which really impact on their quality of life.
“Sandra and her family are still coming to terms with the sad news she will never recover from this terrible illness, caused by simply going to work at these factories some 40 years ago when she was a teenager.
“It’s important that we speak to her ex-colleagues from Filtrona and Plessy’s, who may be able to shed light on how the factories used asbestos and the working conditions she endured, so that we can get her the justice she deserves.”
n If you can help, telephone Mr Maddocks on 279 0095 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.