ALMOST 250 people in Swindon have died since 1981 from exposure to asbestos, figures show.

The death toll was labelled a terrible legacy of the use of the material in workplaces.

In Swindon, many of those who have died from mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to exposure to asbestos, worked in the GWR Works. Across the south west, 5,000 people have lost their lives to mesothelioma, according to Health and Safety Executive figures.

Speaking ahead of Workers' Memorial Day on Sunday, asbestos lawyer Virginia Chalmers of firm Irwin Mitchell said: “The reality is thousands of people are dying due to asbestos exposure in the past. The majority of those were exposed at work, and were completely unaware of the dangers of the hazardous material.

"There has also been a rise in the past five years of people becoming ill who simply washed the clothes of workers decades ago as the harmful asbestos fibres were thrown into the air."

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