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Rugeley grandfather's death was caused by industrial disease after almost 40 years of coal mining

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: August 01, 2014

South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh

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A LUNG condition linked to coal mining led to the death of a Rugeley grandfather more than two decades after he retired, an inquest heard.

Robert Armstrong, of Flaxley Road, worked as a miner from the ages of 14 to 53, when he retired on health grounds, Cannock Coroner's Court heard yesterday. He started working underground in the County Durham area, where he was born, before moving to Staffordshire’s mines.

He had suffered from respiratory problems for 15 years before he was admitted to Stafford Hospital on May 1, with shortness of breath and fever, having collapsed at home.

The 78-year-old was transferred to the hospital's intensive care unit on May 3, but his condition continued to deteriorate and he passed away on May 9 after suffering sepsis.

During his lifetime medics had suggested his breathing problems could be due to coal workers’ pneumoconiosis or asthma. His fatal sepsis however was due to emphysema and hypersplenism (overactive spleen).

Emphysema, another lung condition, can be caused by smoking or exposure coal dust. But Mr Armstrong had never smoked during his life, the inquest heard.

South Staffordshire Coroner recorded a verdict of death from industrial disease.

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