Wife dies from cleaning overalls

A retired painter whose wife died from cancer caused by cleaning overalls for 20 years is backing a campaign for more awareness of asbestos.

Eric Ward’s wife Valerie dies at the age of 78 after being diagnosed with asbestos related mesothelioma. Mr Ward, 85, had worked at Aberthaw power station in the Vale of Glamorgan in the 70s and 80s, where he came into daily contact with asbestos fibres. Compensation over his wife’s death has been donated to a hospice.

“When you think about it, you killed your wife by bringing stuff home that you shouldn’t have done”, said Mr Ward.

Speaking to BBC Radio WAles, he explained how wife Valerie would wash his dust-covered overalls every week – unaware of the dangers hidden in the clothing. HE said that as a fitter’s mate at Aberthaw would mean removing lagging from pipes, showering him in asbestos dust. At the end of the day, the dirty overalls would be bagged up and taken hom eto be cleaned.

“We had no protection at all. We would just go down there and do the job. We knew that it was lagging and that was it” he recalled. “The wife would do all of the washing, she would shake the overalls out and then put them into the washing machine”.

Mr Wards daughter, Avril added, “Probably, we were all exposed to it. At the end of the day it was routine – something that my mother did. We were unaware of the dangers”. Her mother developed symptoms of breathlessness about four years ago, but it was not until 2010 that mesothelioma was diagnosed. The disease is directly caused by exposure to asbestos. Mrs Ward sadly dies within 10 weeks of the news.

“My missus got really upset over it, because in her opinion, she shouldn’t have had it in the first place” said Mr Ward. “I should have got it – not my wife. It should have been me”,

Earlier this year, an inquest into her death recorded a verdict of death by industrial disease.

(Story taken from BBC News, South Wales, 14th March 2013) For more information, please contact us.