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Former Gravesend Avon worker Sylvia Coldwell feared asbestos in talcum powder gave her fatal cancer

By Luke May

A former Avon worker feared asbestos from talcum powder may have given her cancer.

Sylvia Coldwell died last month after receiving hospice care for mesothelioma, a form of cancer associated with asbestos exposure.

The inquest heard the 80-year-old, who was born in Gravesend, worked with the beauty and cosmetics company for 10 years in her younger years.

Sylvia Coldwell's inquest was heard at Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone. Picture: Andy Jones (10502079)
Sylvia Coldwell's inquest was heard at Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone. Picture: Andy Jones (10502079)

Last October, after contracting mesothelioma, the mother-of-three gave a statement reading: "I've never worked with asbestos as far as I'm aware.

"I'm not aware of any exposure at school nor from family members when I was a child."

Coroner Roger Hatch added: "She refers to her husband who worked as a carpenter and says it is possible he may have been involved with asbestos materials.

"She always washed his clothing by hand and it may have come from that.

Talcum powder. Credit: Austin Kirk, Flickr (10897649)
Talcum powder. Credit: Austin Kirk, Flickr (10897649)

"She also raised the possibility there may have been asbestos in the talcum powder she used during her life time."

Today's inquest ruled Mrs Coldwell, of Stanbrook Road, Gravesend, died after suffering a pulmonary embolism as a result of deep vein thrombosis, brought on by mesothelioma.

Mr Hatch said: "In order to return a verdict of industrial disease it would be necessary for me to have more evidence than is available.

"In these circumstances I return an open conclusion so if future evidence arises the case might be looked at again."

Mrs Coldwell's son Wayne said: "Our mum worked at Avon for ten years, back then they were putting on talcum powder like deodrant back then.

"We have a solicitor looking at gathering more evidence."

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

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