Children exposed to asbestos from dads job


Seven of nine children of a Belfast shipyard worked have been diagnosed with lung damage linked to the lethal fibres of asbestos. It is speculated that the lethal dust was brought into the home on father Patrick Rickard's work clothes.

One of the other siblings has just finished treatment for mesothelioma, the rare form of lung cancer which is thought to have developed as a result of exposure to asbestos during his childhood. Mr Rickard died in 1974 from an asbestos related lung condition; he had worked in Harland and Wolff shipyard from 1949 to 1969 spraying asbestos.

One of the children of Patrick Rickard, Sean, was diagnosed with mesothelioma and has undergone surgery and chemotherapy to control his tumour. He explained the different ways the family were exposed to the asbestos dust:

“My father stopped working in 1969 because of ill health and eventually died as a result of his exposure to asbestos during work. My mother had pleural plaques and died from lung cancer which we believe was almost certainly caused by asbestos.

“We used to play with my father when he came home, my brother and I would play with the protective mask he was supposed to wear. My sisters would comb his hair which was full of asbestos dust.

“We would all help my mother shake the dust off his clothes before they were washed. We only had two bedrooms in the house and when we were babies we would sleep in our parents’ room where my father’s work clothes were. We didn’t have a washing machine so the clothes couldn’t be washed every time they were worn.”

Asbestos was widely used after the Second World War as an insulating material and is linked to a number of lung conditions — including pleural plaques, which is scarring of the lining of the lungs, and mesothelioma.

Mr Rickard suspects that families across Northern Ireland could facing the same nightmare that has effected family. saying:

“None of my brothers or sisters have ever worked with asbestos but seven of us have been diagnosed with pleural plaques.”

“Another two have never been tested because they don’t really want to know, but the chances are they probably have them. I have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and my brothers and sisters are living knowing they might develop it too.

If you or a member of your family has been exposed to asbestos you should seek medical and legal advice. Wilson Nesbitt solicitors have a team of specialists who deal with asbestos related claims and can be contacted at [email protected] .

You may also want to visit the asbestos claims section of the Wilson Nesbitt website by clicking here .



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