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Many industries regularly used asbestos throughout the 20th century to complete a number of different tasks. Due to its fire-resistant and insulating properties, this material proved extremely useful during occupations such as plumbing, shipbuilding and construction.

However, unbeknownst to many employees who were tasked with handling the substance, asbestos could also prove extremely hazardous to health. For example, when this material is disturbed or damaged, fibres may enter the air.

If the dust is inhaled, individuals could eventually develop conditions such as mesothelioma – a very serious form of cancer which usually claims the life of the sufferer within three years of being diagnosed.

Fortunately, legislation was introduced in 1999 which prohibited people from using, supplying, or importing this material. However, as the symptoms of mesothelioma can develop up to 60 years after an individual first comes into contact with asbestos, this condition could still become apparent decades after initial exposure.

Prior to its abolition, numerous factories handled asbestos – a naturally occurring, fibrous silicate mineral – and one of these places was the Cape Asbestos plant in Barking, London.

The Cape Asbestos factory in Barking

The factory was founded to process asbestos coming in from South Africa and then used to manufacture asbestos-based consumer items. Opening in 1913, the plant employed more than 10,000 individuals before finally shutting down in 1968.

Potentially, all of these people may have been exposed to asbestos fibres while carrying out their jobs. In fact, between 1981 and 2005, it has been reported that mesothelioma claimed the lives of 187 men and 60 women within the Barking area – making it one the worst locations for asbestos-related deaths in the country.

Yet, it has been claimed these figures are a gross understatement. Allegedly, thousands of individuals could have actually succumbed to asbestos-related conditions within this part of London.

Shockingly, according to The Independent, workers at the factory were not provided with any protective masks and informed that drinking half a pint of milk would prevent them from suffering any adverse affects caused by the asbestos.

Sadly, this information could not be further from the truth. In 1929, a report from a medical officer stated that "many people in Barking are suffering from disease of the lungs due to the inhalation of asbestos dust".

As the symptoms of asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop, those who worked at or lived near the factory could still be diagnosed with conditions such as mesothelioma. Fortunately, one of our asbestos London solicitors might be able to help them claim compensation.

Claiming for exposure at the Cape Asbestos factory

At Seth Lovis & Co, our team of specialist asbestos solicitors has a wealth of experience in helping sufferers of illnesses – such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer – claim compensation.

If you or a member of your family has been adversely affected by the Cape Asbestos factory in Barking, please contact our department today to find out more information about claiming damages.

To do this, you can either complete an online enquiry form or phone a member of our experienced team on 0808 252 0678.

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