Woman’s death linked to asbestos exposure

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A WOMAN died of a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, a inquest heard, in a tragic reminder of how the toxic material is still causing pain to families years after it was banned.

Irene Dowling, of The Mallards, Hemel Hempstead, died on May 22 this year after developing mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos.

The 64-year-old, born in Birmingham, was a supply teacher for a number of years and moved to Hemel Hempstead in 1975, before working at Watford Borough Council in the housing department, and at Luton Borough Council.

Speaking at the inquest on Wednesday, June 28, coroner for Herts Edward Thomas said: “It’s likely if there was exposure, that this was around 20 years ago.

“She seemed to be a very capable lady and a good manager, who was very well liked and respected.”

A test in April 2010 confirmed the presence of mesthelioma

While there was no specific evidence to suggest where Irene could have been exposed to asbestos, she still received some compensation from a government scheme.

Irene’s partner Graham Blair said: “I think these sorts of cases seem to be where people have worked in the same sorts of places for many years.”

Mr Thomas gave a narrative verdict, stating that Irene: “Died of mesothelioma, but that there was no definitive evidence of exposure to asbestos during the course of her employment. I’m not ruling it out, but I can’t prove it.”

Irene spent time at the Hospice of St Francis, and then a care home, before returning home.

She passed away from bronchopneumonia, brought on by the cancer, surrounded by her three sons and her partner Graham at 6am on May 22.