Hemel, UK – The death of a former construction worker and builder in England was ruled as mesothelioma by the coroner. The decedent had not been diagnosed with the disease before his death, and the cancer was found only after a post-mortem autopsy.
Dennis Weeden, 72, of Berkhamsted, United Kingdom, passed away in June. He worked with asbestos materials for more than 10 years of his career, during the time when the use of the material was wide-spread, but its hazardous effects were not yet known.
“When he was working for a building company he would come in regular contact with asbestos, usually cutting up asbestolux and corrugated sheets for garage roofs,” coroner Edward Thomas told the Hatfield Coroner’s Court. “That would have been a major part of his work during that particular time. He would have been regularly exposed to asbestos.”
Asbestos, a mineral material once popular for use in building, construction and even consumer materials, is the leading cause of the rare cancer mesothelioma. Affecting nearly 3,000 people each year, mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, a membrane lining the lungs, heart and abdominal cavity. Asbestos fibers can be breathed in, becoming embedded in the mesothelium and may eventually lead to the mesothelioma cancer.
The finding comes as somewhat of a surprise, as Weeden had not been formally diagnosed with the cancer while alive, although he had been suffering from illnesses and pain for a few years before his death. Although the initial cause of death was listed as “industrial disease,” the coroner, after hearing the decedent’s life history, suspected that his work environment may have contributed to his death, which led to the diagnosis of mesothelioma.
“Having basically had a number of medical problems it’s clear there was substantial exposure to asbestos for at least 10 years, perhaps more,” the coroner said. “I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that this arose from the fairly substantial occupational exposure over at least a 10-year period.”