Teacher died from cancer after decades of exposure to asbestos

A primary school teacher who contracted cancer after decades of exposure to asbestos used as pinboards for her pupil’s art work died as a result of an industrial disease, a coroner has ruled.

Elizabeth Belt died aged 68 in September after a three-year battle with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer linked to asbestos dust. In a detailed statement given before her death, Belt recalled her years spent in schools exposed to asbestos before it was banned in the 1980s. The statement, submitted to the inquest into her death, said she regularly pinned children’s drawings and written work to asbestos boards in classrooms at various schools in north Lincolnshire Belt’s statement said that at her first teaching post in 1968, at Brigg Country primary school, the classrooms “would seem a bit dusty”. She said: “There may have been exposure to asbestos at the infant section of the school. “There were large sections of boarding where the children’s work was displayed and there would be a change of work every two to three weeks.” A decade later, Belt began work at Baysgarth school in Barton-upon-Humber. Her statement said: “They had that same boarding and there was constant pinning and removing. There was considerable use of a staple gun.”

The coroner Paul Kelly recorded a verdict of death as a result of an industrial disease. Addressing Belt’s family at the inquest last week, Kelly said: “I have no doubt that Mum contracted malignant mesothelioma as a result of ingesting asbestos while working as a teacher at various schools in north Lincolnshire between 1968 and 1995.”

The inquest heard that North Lincolnshire council’s insurers had accepted a claim with Belt’s family. The family have not revealed the level of compensation. Speaking after the inquest, Belt’s daughter Charlotte Shearwood said she wanted to raise awareness about mesothelioma. “It is a horrible, horrible disease. There is obviously a generation that worked with her in the same places. I suppose we are all angry, but I just think our sadness outweighs it.”

A North Lincolnshire council spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts are with Elizabeth’s family and friends. Inquests are difficult and sad occasions, but at least her family now have closure and can start to move on with their lives.”

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