Heathfield man dies from asbestos-related disease

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Relatives of a Heathfield man who died from mesothelioma have been told about a scientific method by which they can determine whether his death was directly due to asbestos, and what type it was likely to be.

Last Thursday’s inquest heard that Roderick Stevenson, 67 of Springwood Road died on June 24 at St Wilfrid’s Hospice. His daughter, Tara told the coroner he had worked at Chichester Technical College and subsequently as a toolmaker at Lesney Matchbox Toys in Hackney Wick. She explained the building was old and had to be repaired a lot.

East Sussex coroner Mr Craze said: “He must have been exposed to asbestos there. Asbestos is found in ships’ boiler rooms, around lagged pipes and in schools. In Victorian times employers took no precautions to protect their staff. Now there are proper safety procedures.”

Pathology reports showed asbestos in Mr Stevenson’s lungs which led to his death. If Mr Stevenson’s family wanted to take the matter further, Mr Craze described a process called electromicrology. A specialist laboratory examines dried lung tissue, weighs it, sets it on fire and all that is left is the asbestos. If they wanted to go ahead with this they should ensure the lung tissue is retained. He recorded a verdict of death from an industrial disease.