Mother threatens legal action against Islington Council over asbestos concerns
16:01 17 February 2013
A mother is threatening to sue council bosses for negligence – alleging that workmen exposed herself and her son to asbestos-riddled dust.
Patricia Moriarty is worried that her son’s cancer – which he successfully fought off 12 years ago – could be more likely to return as a result of the alleged exposure.
Miss Moriarty, 47, a nursery nurse at The Whittington Hospital in Archway, allowed workmen into her council house back in 2009 so they could re-wire the three-bedroom property and upgrade the kitchen and boiler.
Miss Moriarty says it was only later that she discovered that the artex ceilings of the 1980s-built house, which is on the Hargrave Park Estate off Junction Road, Archway, contained small amounts of asbestos.
She is now worried that the dust generated during the works could have been contaminated by the potentially toxic substance, which can cause conditions such as mesothelioma.
And she alleges that the builders undertook no special protective measures – such as sealing off rooms or wearing protective suits – while they were working.
Miss Moriarty, whose son, now 24, underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for Ewing’s Sarcoma at the age of eight, said: “A surveyor came to do samples of all the ceilings and his report came back saying that there was asbestos, but that it was considered a lower-level risk.
“Because the bathroom ceiling is flaking, I am getting them to replace it. But I can’t do anything about the places they already drilled into. My son is so predisposed to cancer. Am I going to have to live in fear for the next 20 years? I am considering suing Islington Council.”
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), asbestos exposure is responsible for around 4,500 deaths a year because when the fibres are inhaled they can cause serious lung diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer as well as non-fatal conditions such as asbestosis.
The HSE states that when drilling into materials containing asbestos, protective overalls should be worn, rooms should be closed off, surfaces should be protected with polythene and the drilling should be done without creating dust.
An Islington Council spokesman insisted that all contractors were instructed to use the correct procedures in dealing with asbestos. He said they would have been told to anticipate the possibility of asbestos when working in properties of this age and type, even though Miss Moriarty’s specific property had not been surveyed for asbestos before the work started.
He added: “Last October’s survey confirmed a small hairline crack in the bathroom ceiling so we’d like to get in to make a repair. While not standard procedure, to give Miss Moriarty peace of mind, we will also run an air test.”