A FORMER factory worker whose health deteriorated sharply in the months before his death last September, died of industrial disease, a Gwent area coroner concluded.

Until last summer Gerald Bythell had seemed in good health despite his 78 years - but he died on September 6 2013 - shortly after being told he had pleural plaques, or scarring on his lungs.

He was subsequently found to have been suffering from mesothelioma, a cancer of tissues lining the lungs and abdomen, most often linked to exposure to asbestos, and which generally develops 30 years or more later.

Mr Bythell, who lived most of his life in Brynmawr, worked at the town's former Dunlop Semtex factory for more than 10 years from the mid-1960s, including in its mill room and on its mixing deck, an inquest was told.

In a statement, Mr Bythell's widow Evelyn said she had been told by a doctor who treated him during his final months that he developed his illness as a result of exposure to asbestos.

She said she had been told he was exposed to asbestos while at Dunlop Semtex, but knew no more about it.

Two years before he died he had been in good health, but developed a wheeze that got worse. He was diagnosed with mild emphysema and developed a number of chest infections.

His health worsened during 2013, to the point where, by August, he "looked awful" and was often delirious. Mrs Bythell was then told her husband was in the last days of his life.

A post mortem examination revealed that the primary cause of Mr Bythell's death was malignant mesothelioma.

Area coroner Wendy James concluded he died as a result of industrial disease.

Last month, Mr Bythell's family appealed through the Argus for his former workmates to come forward to help them pursue a claim of compensation on behalf of his widow.

After working at Dunlop Semtex, he was employed at Cooper's Filters in Abergavenny - where he met his wife - until 1987.

Though it is not known for sure whether his disease developed as a result of his time with these employers, his family is seeking to compile a picture of his working life to help with a claim.

Both operations are long since closed, but if they were insured a claim would most likely be pursued through their insurers.