Pennsylvania Asbestos Exposure Sites
Asbestos is a mineral substance made up of flexible fibers that can easily disperse in the air when disturbed. Prior to the establishment of Pennsylvania mesothelioma and asbestos laws, asbestos was widely used to construct houses, build and repair ships, and make vehicle parts in the state.
Although people can be exposed to asbestos virtually anywhere in Pennsylvania, there are locations where residents are more prone to asbestos exposure. These areas are referred to as asbestos exposure sites in Pennsylvania.
Asbestos exposure occurs in Pennsylvania partly because of the state’s few natural asbestos deposits. These deposits were mined on a small scale in the early 1900s. Today, former asbestos mine workers and people who live close to the mines have a higher risk of asbestos exposure. Also, residents who worked in companies that manufactured or sold asbestos products may be at risk of developing serious illnesses from their exposure to asbestos.
Furthermore, considering asbestos was used to manufacture many buildings in Pennsylvania, those materials still lie in many pre-1980 buildings. Therefore, anyone who resides in an older building stands the risk of exposure during demolition, repairs, and abatement procedures.
How Does Asbestos Exposure Happen in Pennsylvania?
Asbestos fibers can quickly become airborne when disturbed due to their nature. Anyone within the geographical space can easily inhale airborne fiber. This danger of asbestos exposure through inhaling contaminated air is strengthened because the thin asbestos fibers can remain airborne for long periods. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos-containing material pollutes the air. In fact, the state, federal, and international agencies consider asbestos a carcinogen.
Ingestion is another exposure route to asbestos in Pennsylvania. Individuals can swallow materials from the lungs of persons who have inhaled asbestos fibers. They can take water contaminated with asbestos probably via erosion of natural land sources or disintegration of other asbestos-containing materials transported by rainwater. Also, individuals can eat food contaminated with asbestos. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established that asbestos levels in most water supplies are below the maximum contamination level (MCL) that the Environmental Protection Agency set, ingestion is still one of the ways that people in Pennsylvania can be exposed to asbestos.
Furthermore, asbestos fiber can be trapped in the skin during asbestos handling. Skin absorption of the materials was only prevalent in the past among asbestos workers before the government instituted various regulations. Exposure through skin contact can also result from using asbestos products like talcum powder. However, exposure through skin contact is not known to result in serious health problems.
The Centers for Disease Control submitted that inhalation of asbestos fiber is the most critical exposure route that leads to illness. Also, the center established that ingestion of asbestos fiber is a less common exposure pathway.
Where Does Asbestos Exposure Occur in Pennsylvania
Asbestos exposure can happen at various locations in Pennsylvania due to its nature. Prominent among these locations are work sites and environmental areas. For instance, records from the United States Geological Survey revealed the existence of four former asbestos mines in the Southeastern region of Pennsylvania. These mines contain the amphibole family of asbestos. Crocidolite, a type of asbestos available in the mines, belongs to this asbestos family. Crocidolite is the most dangerous asbestos type due to the fibers' ability to remain in the lungs longer than others. Thereby, it can create a greater chance of developing malignant mesothelioma. Apart from the mines, the state is refuted to have about 37 verifiable natural asbestos deposits.
The Environmental Protection Agency highlighted that Pennsylvania has some designated Superfund Sites due to the state's mining history and long history of asbestos trade (importing and exporting asbestos). Superfund is the common name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980. The EPA established this superfund program to clean up hazardous waste sites. Private landowners or the government spearhead the cleaning of these sites. The sites remain on the Environmental Protection Agency National Priority List for varying lengths of time. However, the sites will be removed from the National Priority List whenever the individuals complete the cleanup. Occasionally, the site can continue to be on assessment and maintenance for a long time.
Pennsylvania is noted to host some important superfund sites, which include the following:
- The BoRit Asbestos in Ambler, Montgomery County
- The Metal Bank in Northeast Philadelphia
- The Crater Resources Inc./ Keystone Coke Co./Alan Wood Steel Co. (aka Crater Resources) in Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County.
Additionally, Pennsylvania has job sites with established asbestos exposure. These job sites are mainly in the power, shipbuilding, and steel mills. Examples of the job sites include:
- Penna Light, Heat and Power Company
- Harrisburg Light and Power Company
- Pennsylvania Light and Power Company
The power companies use asbestos to insulate against heat in generators, gaskets, turbines, and boilers. They also use asbestos to protect against electricity.
- Penn Shipbuilding
- Bethlehem Steel Shipyard
- Key Highway Shipyard
- Sun Shipbuilding
- Hog Island Shipyard
- Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
The shipbuilding companies use asbestos extensively in shipyards and different areas of shipbuilding.
- LTV steel
- National steel company
- Phoenix iron and steel company
- Paxton iron and steel company
- Athos steel mill
Steel companies use asbestos for insulation.
The federal and state governments enacted various legislations to control the use of asbestos-containing materials in Pennsylvania. These legislations reduced the possibility of asbestos exposure in the workplace and closing of most asbestos mines. However, the case of asbestos exposure can still occur in Pennsylvania in the scenarios below.
- Buildings, whether residential, commercial or school constructed before the 1980
- Job sites with established asbestos exposure
- Areas and places with naturally occurring asbestos
- Vehicles with parts containing asbestos
- Military bases
Also, it should be noted that asbestos-containing products are another established source of asbestos exposure in the state. Unforeseen circumstances like terrorist attacks (e.g., 9:11 attacks) and natural occurrences (earthquakes and floods) can become sources of asbestos exposure in Pennsylvania.
Who is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure in Pennsylvania?
Different categories of people are at risk of asbestos exposure in Pennsylvania. They include:
- Residents who stay close to any of the superfund sites
- People whose daily activities are within the areas with naturally occurring asbestos deposits (NOA). Examples of such daily activities include hiking, clearing exercise, renovation, and other related activities.
- Workers at any of the job sites with established asbestos contamination. These people stand the risk of asbestos exposure in their job due to the volume of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials (ACM) they use. These workers are:
- Those who work in industries, such as power plants
- Those involved with construction and renovation works, such as carpenters, painters, plumbers, and electricians
- Those who work at shipyards
- Demolition or abatement workers
- Essential workers like firefighters, law enforcement officers, and military personnel
- People with prolonged use of asbestos-containing products or products such as talcum powder.
Although different exposure routes (inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact) have established asbestos exposure, inhalation, according to the Center for Disease Control, is the most significant exposure route that leads to illness. Therefore anyone who comes in contact with air contaminated with asbestos fibers regularly stands a more substantial risk of developing asbestos-related diseases or the rare malignant mesothelioma.
Furthermore, anyone who resides in any old buildings containing asbestos stands the risk of asbestos exposure. Likewise, teachers, students, and other school staff members with buildings constructed before 1980 stand a chance of asbestos exposure.
It is also possible for people to experience indirect asbestos exposure. Anyone who has contact with asbestos fiber can unknowingly expose their family members (e.g., spouse and/or children) and friends to the materials. Sometimes, such people's clothes, hair, shoes, or tools contaminated with asbestos fibers become the source of exposure. However, the current level of awareness about asbestos exposure and the various regulatory steps by the federal and state agencies helped reduce the possibility of indirect asbestos exposure.
How Much Asbestos Exposure Causes Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the mesothelial tissue of internal organs. Mesothelioma affects the lungs, heart, reproductive organs, and abdomen. Exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma. It takes a long time (20-40 years) to develop, and most of the time, mesothelioma will have spread to different parts of the body before its diagnosis. Currently, there is no known cure for mesothelioma. Medical practitioners only manage the situation so that the patient can be comfortable within the remaining few months to live. This accounts for the high mortality rate of mesothelioma. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,711 mesothelioma deaths occurred between 2001 and 2010 in Pennsylvania. The burden of mesothelioma includes both financial and psychological. The financial burden consists of the cost of treatment, such as chemotherapy and surgeries. The psychological burden consists of the pains, fears, and stress due to mesothelioma or taking care of patients.
Although no amount of asbestos exposure is considered safe, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the National Cancer Institute established the risk factors for developing mesothelioma. The factors include:
- The quantity of asbestos in the air
- The frequency and length of exposure
- The length of time since the exposure began
- The asbestos exposure route
- Individual lifestyle, such as smoking
- Personal characteristics like sex, age, the health status of the individual
- Genetic factors or family history
- Type of asbestos
Asbestos Exposure Symptoms
Asbestos exposure is considered to be a precursor to cancerous and non-cancerous diseases. Symptoms of asbestos exposure most time are associated with the lungs. This may be because when individuals inhale asbestos fibers, it lodges in their lungs, causing lung diseases. On the other hand, symptoms of asbestos exposure can be associated with the throat, colon, and stomach. Generally, symptoms of asbestos exposure include:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough or wheezing
- Tightness in the chest or chest pain
- Respiratory difficulties or complications
- Swelling of the neck
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bowel obstruction
- Fluid accumulation in the space surrounding the lung
Anyone who fears asbestos exposure or has started seeing these symptoms should visit their doctors for proper examination. This is because the chance of survival depends on the time of diagnosis. Early diagnosis improves the survival rate, while late diagnosis leads to more harm.
Asbestos Exposure From Products
Initially, people considered asbestos a miracle mineral whose usefulness included industrial and commercial dimensions. The material is used as insulation for heat and electricity in power plants, chemical plants, and shipbuilding. It is equally used in producing automobile parts and beauty products. However, asbestos is carcinogenic and possesses many other health risks. These negative tendencies of asbestos necessitated its regulation at federal and state levels. For instance, in Pennsylvania, the Department of Labor and Industry enforced the Pennsylvania Asbestos Occupations Accreditation and Certification Act to regulate asbestos use. Also, the government closed down asbestos mines as well as cleared and reclaimed many superfund sites.
However, asbestos in various old materials and products remains a serious health concern in Pennsylvania. These products and materials include:
- Materials/products used at home: Notable among this category are dryers (cloth and hair), freezers, refrigerators, and household heaters
- Materials/products used in an automobile: Some old vehicles contain asbestos in their parts, such as brake pads, clutches, and gaskets
- Materials/products used in construction: This category contains asbestos cement, plaster, pipes for hot water, popcorn, and vinyl tiles.
- Beauty products: Many cosmetic or beauty products contain a certain amount of asbestos. For example, a cosmetic product containing talc is contaminated with asbestos. This is because talc and asbestos are found in similar locations, and asbestos can attach to talc during mining.
- Children's products: These include children's toys and other play materials.
Although asbestos products do not necessarily pose a health risk, the likelihood of some of the products/materials releasing asbestos fibers when disturbed raises serious concern.
Occupational Asbestos Exposure in Pennsylvania
The most common cause of asbestos exposure relates to the workplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), most mesothelioma cases result from workplace asbestos exposure. The most at-risk occupations in Pennsylvania include construction workers, firefighters, shipyard workers, and general industries workers.
Construction workers: These groups of workers have the greatest risk of occupational asbestos exposure in Pennsylvania. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 14% of all mesothelioma deaths between 1999 and 2012 occurred among construction workers.
Shipyard workers: These categories of workers in Pennsylvania are prone to asbestos exposure during construction, repair, and deconstruction exercises. Pennsylvania has had a fair share of shipbuilding companies in the past. Therefore, many people who worked in the shipbuilding industry stood a greater risk of asbestos exposure due to its use.
Firefighters: This is another category of workers with a higher risk of asbestos exposure in Pennsylvania. Firefighters can be exposed to various hazardous chemicals like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and asbestos. Although firefighters' modern protective gear no longer contains asbestos for fire insulation, they still stand at higher risk when combating fire in older buildings.
General industry workers: Workers in the manufacturing companies such as power plants, automobile mechanics, and those working at various chemical companies in Pennsylvania stand a greater risk of asbestos exposure. This is possible because of the many uses of asbestos in the industry.
It should be noted that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has put several safety standards for risk-related occupations to protect its present and past workers.
Environmental Asbestos Exposure
The environment is another major route to asbestos exposure. This is because asbestos is a naturally occurring material. There are areas across the United States, especially in Pennsylvania, with large asbestos deposits. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, naturally occurring asbestos is present in specific geological formations, including rock and serpentine rock. The percentage of asbestos in these rock formations ranges from 1% to about 25%. Natural weathering and routine human activities such as hiking and soil movement can disturb naturally occurring asbestos, releasing asbestos fibers into the air. When this happens, anyone exposed to the contaminated air is at risk.
Furthermore, asbestos mining is a route to environmental asbestos exposure. For instance, in the early 1900s, the presence of the Smedley asbestos mine and Gladwyne Quarries in Pennsylvania provided an environmental pathway for asbestos exposure. The air, soil, and underground water around these asbestos mines contain more than the current permissible exposure limits that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set. However, the government has banned asbestos mining in the United States.
Additionally, man-made and natural disasters can trigger environmental asbestos exposure. Man-made disasters like terrorist attacks (9:11) can release asbestos materials into the air or underground water, thereby putting many people at risk of asbestos exposure. Natural disasters like floods, wildfires, and earthquakes can disturb or damage asbestos-containing soils and rocks, leading to air and water contamination and putting people at the risk of asbestos exposure.
Although federal and state regulations exist for asbestos demolition, renovation, abatement works, and waste disposal, these human activities can lead to environmental asbestos exposure, thereby endangering people's lives.
Asbestos Exposure by Pennsylvania County
Pennsylvania has a long history with asbestos. The state has about 37 verifiable natural asbestos deposits and about four notable mines in the early 1900s. The state was home to the asbestos factory, previously referred to as the "asbestos-manufacturing capital of the world" due to the volume of the asbestos processed. As a result of the huge deposit of asbestos and the great dimension of asbestos use, many people were exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
There is no government data on asbestos exposure by counties in Pennsylvania. However, different third-party websites provide information on deaths due to mesothelioma between 1999 and 2017 across counties in Pennsylvania. As a matter of fact, Allegheny County recorded the highest number of 1,969 mesothelioma deaths between 1999 and 2017.
Pennsylvania Counties with the Most Naturally Occurring Asbestos
Naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) describes asbestos in its natural state, either in rocks or soils, as against its processed form.
In Pennsylvania, naturally occurring asbestos is present in specific geological formations, including ultramafic rock and serpentine rock. It can also be present in rock deep in the ground or near the surface. The quantity of asbestos usually contained in these rock formations can range from below 1% to about 25%.
There are 42 different naturally occurring asbestos sites in Pennsylvania. These 42 sites are scattered across about 15 different counties. Some of the sites with naturally occurring asbestos in Pennsylvania include Line Pit Chromium mine, Dunlap Serpentine Quarry, Cedar Hill (Geiger) Serpentine Quarry, Keystone Quarry, Burkholder (Stillwell's) Serpentine Quarry, and Teeter Quarry, among others. It should be noted that only four of these naturally occurring sites in Pennsylvania witnessed asbestos mining or production. These four sites are Gladwyne quarries, The Village Green (Hannum) Asbestos Pits, Rockdale (Jacob Side's) Pits, and Smedley's Asbestos Mine. All the remaining sites have asbestos occurrences. One can find nearly all the six types of asbestos across these 42 sites, but the amphibole family seems dominant among the four sites with actual asbestos mining activities. Crocidolite, one of the amphibole family members, is very common across these sites. Crocidolite is considered more dangerous than other asbestos because its fibers can stay longer in the air, thereby increasing the chances of asbestos-related illnesses.
The possibility of environmental exposure is very high around these sites, irrespective of actual mining activities or not. Natural weathering can disturb the fibers and contaminate the air. Also, asbestos can contaminate groundwater around these sites. When these happen, people's lives are in danger of asbestos exposure with grave health consequences.
The two counties that housed the four naturally occurring asbestos sites that witnessed mining and production activities in Pennsylvania are Delaware and Montgomery counties.
Delaware County in Pennsylvania consists of over 184 square miles apportioned into 49 municipalities. The county is home to three of the four naturally occurring asbestos sites in Pennsylvania where asbestos was formerly mined or produced. The sites are Village Green (Hannum) Asbestos Pits, Rockdale (Jacob Side's) Pits, and Smedley's Asbestos Mine. The precise asbestos found in these sites is amphibole. Due to asbestos regulation and subsequent ban on asbestos mining in the United States, asbestos mining activities have since stopped in these sites. However, the possibility of exposure around the site is still high. As a result, human activities that can disturb the naturally occurring asbestos, such as hiking, gardening, and other activities, should be discouraged.
Montgomery County is the third-most populous county in Pennsylvania. The county's total area is 487 square miles, with 483 square miles of land and the rest water. It is home to a main naturally occurring asbestos site referred to as the Gladwyne quarry. The quarry is one of the four NOA sites in Pennsylvania where asbestos mining or production took place before the carcinogenic properties of the material became common knowledge, and various federal and state legislation led to the banning of asbestos mining in the United States.
Various available data may have played down the remaining naturally occurring asbestos sites in the state and considered them just occurrences. However, the state's position as one of those having the highest mesothelioma deaths in the country underscores the importance of these sites in influencing possible environmental asbestos exposure in the state.
Pennsylvania Public Buildings with Documented Asbestos
The general assembly of the Pennsylvania legislature defined a public building as a building or structure that the council considers necessary for the use of the city. Furthermore, a public building is a building and structure used for a public purpose. Examples of a public building according to Pa. Stat. § 13601 includes a public auditorium, public monument or memorial building, and public library.
Public buildings used to contain asbestos before the federal and state government enacted legislation on asbestos use. Asbestos-containing materials are used for heat insulation, fireproofing, and sometimes soundproofing. Asbestos-containing materials in public buildings indicate a severe health risk to users. Although there is no government data detailing public buildings having asbestos in Pennsylvania, since asbestos was freely used in building construction before 1980, it is reasonable to conclude that many public buildings constructed before 1980 contained asbestos. This conclusion, therefore, demands double efforts from various government agencies to protect people using these facilities from asbestos exposure. It should be noted that various government agencies are working to limit the probability of asbestos exposure in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Asbestos Mines and Environmental Risks
Before the ban on asbestos mining in the United States, Pennsylvania had a few deposit locations for asbestos mining. According to the United States Geological Survey, these deposit locations in Pennsylvania include:
- Gladwyne Quarries
- The Village Green Asbestos Pits
- The Rockdale Pits
- Smedley’s Asbestos
Mining activities in these four locations have stopped due to asbestos mining regulations. However, the potential for environmental asbestos exposure is still high in these locations. There is still the possibility of air contamination with asbestos fibers and groundwater contamination from naturally occurring asbestos in these locations. Residents, therefore, need to be more aware of these risks and be more careful in their everyday activities to limit the potential of environmental asbestos exposure.
Pennsylvania Firefighter Asbestos Exposure
Firefighting is one of the high-risk professions as far as asbestos exposure is concerned. As a result of what firefighters do and the various hazardous materials they get exposed to in their job. Even now, the situation has not changed.
Many old buildings contain asbestos in their roofing and siding, electrical panels, wiring, switches, walls and ceiling insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, paints, etc. Anytime there is a fire outbreak in these buildings in Pennsylvania, asbestos materials are damaged, and asbestos fibers are released. Firefighters, as frontline officers, are exposed to asbestos and other contaminants and most times develop mesothelioma.
Also, firefighters respond to other fire incidents like automobile fires. Some old vehicles still contain asbestos in their clutches, transition plates, gaskets, and brakes. During fire incidents, the asbestos in these parts can become damaged, and firefighters stand the risk of asbestos exposure.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the probability that firefighters will develop mesothelioma is twice that of the general public. Although Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) offer protection against hazardous materials, the urgency of their work and the conditions under which they work make the protective equipment to be removed or poorly fitted. When this happens, exposure to hazardous materials like asbestos happens.
Additionally, firefighters as first responders stand the risk of asbestos exposure in situations like a terrorist attack. They equally serve as sources of secondary exposure. Asbestos fibers can be trapped in their hair and on their body. These firefighters can take the asbestos home, exposing family members to asbestos. Occasionally, firefighters choose to undertake routine repairs in their stations by themselves and may be exposed to asbestos in the course of doing this. This can happen in stations situated in old buildings.
Pennsylvania Veterans Asbestos Exposure
Veterans who served in various military locations across Pennsylvania between 1930 and 1980 are at greater risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos was freely used in military places for insulation, electric wiring, vehicle parts, and armored vehicles. The Navy used asbestos in shipbuilding, shipyard, and submarines, among other uses. These various uses of asbestos in the military increased the propensity of asbestos exposure among veterans. Many of the veterans thereby developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has information on health care offers, benefits, and financial compensation for veterans in case of occupational disability like mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.
Non-cancerous Conditions Caused by Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure is known to cause various cancers and many non-cancerous conditions. Some of the non-cancerous conditions may not be as life-threatening as the cancers. However, these non-cancerous conditions take a long time to manifest and predispose individuals to more severe life-threatening conditions. Some non-cancerous conditions include asbestosis, pleural effusions, and pleural plaques.
The National Cancer Institute defined asbestosis as a lung disease caused by breathing in asbestos fibers. Some symptoms of this condition are breathing difficulty or trouble breathing, coughing, and chest pain caused by permanent damage to lung tissue or scarring.
Asbestosis is severe and irreversible in patients. It can probably degenerate to respiratory failure, heart failure, or even lead to lung cancer or malignant mesothelioma. Occasionally, asbestosis can lead to death.
This condition is one of the occupational hazards linked to asbestos exposure. Individuals can adequately manage asbestosis for years after its diagnosis. Some established management approaches for asbestosis include oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and sometimes lung transplant.
This is another condition linked to asbestos exposure. This condition is non-aggressive or recurrent. It is characterized by areas of fibrous thickening or scarring of the lining of the diaphragm or lungs. This condition also takes time to develop after the initial asbestos exposure.
This disease is benign, without noticeable symptoms, and does not necessarily require medical treatment as it does not impede an individual's quality of life. Also, it doesn't result in loss of effective lung function. However, it is incurable and irreversible, like some other known conditions or diseases caused by asbestos exposure. Management of the condition includes eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and abstinence from smoking.
Although pleural plaques are not malignant and life-threatening, individuals with the condition risk developing pleural mesothelioma.
Another disease or illness resulting from asbestos exposure is pleural effusion. This condition results from a build-up of fluid between the tissue that surrounds the lungs and the chest. Some of the symptoms of the condition include fever, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, and collapse of the lung.
This condition is treatable and usually resolves within months. Treatment of the disease includes antibiotic use, water pills, and removing accumulated fluid in the lungs. It should be noted that the condition can become fatal if untreated and the fluid becomes infected.
Some other non-cancerous asbestos-related diseases include:
- Pericardial effusion: This results from the build-up of fluid in the membrane sac surrounding the heart
- Peritoneal effusion: This is a result of the build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity
- Rounded atelectasis: This is a form of lung collapse associated with asbestos exposure. Another name for this disease is folded lung syndrome.
- Diffuse pleural thickening: This condition results when existing scarring on the pleural becomes thickened. Scarring is one of the diseases or conditions caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): This lung disease blocks airflow in the lung and causes breathing difficulties. Although long-term smoking can induce this condition, extensive asbestos exposure triggers it.
Asbestos Exposure in Pennsylvania: Who is Responsible and How Do I Prove It?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been put to very many uses because of its numerous desirable properties. However, the material is carcinogenic and presents a threat to whoever is exposed to it. Currently, there is no safe level of exposure to the material.
One of the pathways to asbestos exposure is the environmental pathway. This is possible because the material is naturally occurring. Due to this, people around the natural deposit risk breathing in contaminated air or drinking contaminated water. Human activities around places with known asbestos deposits can release asbestos fibers into the atmosphere.
Additionally, people get exposed to asbestos in their line of duty. This is because many companies producing or processing asbestos products carefully conceal the truth of the carcinogenic properties of asbestos from the public, thereby exposing many people – their employees and consumers of their products to asbestos. These companies' breach of contract of care led many people to have asbestos-related diseases. As a result, victims of asbestos-related diseases filed various legal claims against companies and employers in Pennsylvania that they believed exposed them to asbestos for compensation.
Depending on the various possible pathways to asbestos exposure in Pennsylvania, the various entities that can be held liable for a person’s predicament with asbestos include:
- Mining companies
- Companies dealing in raw asbestos fiber
- Manufacturers and suppliers of various asbestos products
- Employers that use asbestos-containing materials in their jobs
- Owners of asbestos-contaminated properties and buildings
Individuals can file three main compensation claims against parties considered responsible for exposing the individual to asbestos. There is the personal injury claim that a victim can file against employers or organizations which expose them to asbestos. Also, there is the wrongful death claim that the estate of a late asbestos-related disease victim can file. The third claim is the trust fund claim that individuals can file against asbestos companies or employers filing for bankruptcy. In all these three claims, victims must establish the negligence of the companies or employers that caused their asbestos exposure. This is a very serious task to undertake. However, with the help of an experienced attorney and supporting documents from certified and experienced physicians, this negligence of companies and employers is possible to establish.
An experienced attorney will help the victim to put together a strong complaint. Evidence to prove the submission of the victim include:
- Proof of employment by a liable company
- Occurrence of asbestos exposure at the job site
- Proof that the employers owe them a duty of care
- A breach of duty of care by the employer.
Additionally, a diagnosis by a certified medical practitioner will establish that the victim has a related disability that is linked to asbestos exposure. This will adequately position the victim or their estate for compensation.
Can Multiple Jobs Be Responsible for Asbestos Exposure?
Yes. Multiple jobs can expose people to asbestos throughout their lifetime. For example, an individual may have been a mine worker during the period when asbestos mining and manufacturing were thriving. Also, the same individual may have joined the military around World War II and stayed in the military even after the war. This transition between the two jobs, especially before the ban on asbestos mining and its regulated use in the workplace, can lead to multiple asbestos exposures for the individual.
Although many federal and state legislation limited asbestos use in the workplace, limiting workers' exposure to the material. Past workers in these high-risk occupations are still at risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses. Regardless of when the disease eventually shows up, Pennsylvania laws allow such individuals to file compensation from either existing or bankrupt companies.