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Last Updated: Monday, 11 October, 2004, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Man 'youngest' asbestos victim
Barry Welch as a child with his stepfather
Barry Welch as a child with his stepfather Roger Bugby
A man aged 32 is claiming to be the youngest person in the UK to contract a fatal cancer caused by asbestos from domestic exposure to the substance.

Barry Welch believes he contracted the cancer as a child while living with his stepfather who worked at a power station on the Isle of Grain in Kent.

He says he must have come into contact with asbestos dust which came from his stepfather Roger Bugby's clothes.

Mr Bugby's employer Balfour Beatty said it did not comment on individual cases.

Small amounts

Mr Welch, who has been given six months to live, has mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs.

In the UK the only known cause is exposure to asbestos, which needs to be present only in small amounts.

The asbestos that causes the condition is now banned but Mr Welch believes he was exposed to it during the 1970s.

The period between exposure to asbestos and development of the condition can be from 10 to 50 years.

"When my stepfather came home from work my mum would shake his clothes to get the asbestos dust out of them," said Mr Welch, who is married with three children.

It is vital that people who remember the presence of asbestos at the Isle of Grain come forward as witnesses
Adrian Budgen

"It must have been from playing around my mum that I came into contact with the harmful particles.

"It seems so unfair that my life will be cut short. "

National law firm Irwin Mitchell is representing Mr Welch in a possible claim for compensation.

He is the youngest person known to the firm to have the disease allegedly as a result of domestic exposure.

Spokesman Adrian Budgen said: "This is a particularly tragic case and it is vital that people who remember Roger Bugby or the presence of asbestos at the Isle of Grain Power Station in Kent come forward as witnesses."

Balfour Beatty said it had not received a claim from Mr Welch and so could not comment on the specific case.

But it said that it did have a number of asbestos-related claims from the 1970s arising from the Isle of Grain.

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