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Manchester University deaths 'not linked to radiation'


Two Manchester University academics who worked in a building where radioactive materials were used did not die of radiation exposure, a coroner has said.

Dr Arthur Reader, 69, of Burnage, and Prof Tom Whiston, 70, from Brighton, both died of pancreatic cancer.

They both worked in the Rutherford building where atomic experiments were conducted by Nobel prize-winner Ernest Rutherford between 1907 until 1919.

Relatives feared harmful radioactive material may have lingered there.

Rutherford carried out atomic experiments in the building using radioactive materials including radon, uranium and polonium.

Concerns were also raised by the families of four other people who had also worked in the building and had since died.

However, coroner for Manchester Nigel Meadows ruled during a joint inquest that both Dr Reader, who died in 2008, and Professor Whiston, who died in 2009, died from natural causes not linked to exposure to radiation.

In 2009, a Health Protection Agency report concluded there was no indication that people working there had been exposed to radiation.

'No link'

A further report by Professor David Coggon, of Southampton University, the same year found there was no sign of any link between the men's deaths and radiation and any "cluster" of cancers was a coincidence.

Dr Heather Denley, who conducted post-mortem examinations on both men, also found there was no evidence of higher levels of radioactive matter in their bodies.

Professor John Neoptolemos, from Liverpool University, a world expert on pancreatic cancer, said radiation does not cause pancreatic cancer.

Mr Meadows, concluding the inquests, said: "I am entirely satisfied that the occupation of either of the deceased for any period of time in the Rutherford Building was not causatively linked to the causes of their deaths.

"The evidence does not justify any link or connection."

A statement from the University of Manchester said: "This has been a long and difficult process for the families of our former colleagues. We hope that they are reassured by the coroner's verdict."

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