California Rules Companies Can Be Held Liable If Workers Bring Home Asbestos

California Supreme Court has ruled that companies may be held liable if someone gets sick from asbestos brought home from a job site by a worker.

This ruling was decided unanimously last week. This ruling will allow families or workers to sue companies if people have been allegedly diseased by asbestos fibers brought into the home on another person’s clothing.
Asbestos was widely used in building material decades ago which is why many construction workers performing projects on older buildings may continue to be exposed to the material.

This ruling comes on the basis that employers have a duty to take responsible care to prevent workers from carrying home asbestos on their clothing or other personal items. On this ruling, only members living in the home may sue on the basis of secondary exposure.

This ruling has stemmed from numerous lawsuits of family members being exposure to someone in the home who worked in an environment where asbestos exposure was possible. Many of these lawsuits involve family members passing away from mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the chest which is closely linked to asbestos exposure. Victims of this disease may be exposed by inhaling or ingesting microscopic asbestos fibers that were brought into the home on clothing.

It is believed that companies knew of the dangers of asbestos for decades but failed to provide locker rooms or showers for workers. But now, due to this decision, wives and children and husbands who were needlessly and preventably poisoned will be able to seek justice- in the state of California at least.

Asbestos Ban In The Netherlands

The Netherlands has ordered all asbestos roofs to be removed by 2024. Since the ban of asbestos 22 years ago, officials have continued to eliminate the dangerous material from the country’s infrastructures. But most recently  they have set a strict deadline, all asbestos roofing must be removed by January 1, 2024, giving homeowners and officials just over 7 years to get the job done.

The ban of asbestos roofing only applies to the exterior asbestos containing materials such as corrugated sheets and slate roof. It is the hopes that the ban will prevent exposure among citizens. Wilma Mansveld, the former Undersecretary for Infrastructure and Environment cites deteriorating roofs and recent fires for the banning of asbestos material. In fact, there has been a slew of recent fires which have caused asbestos particles to end up in residential areas. This combined with inclement weather such as hail or high winds also leads to the deterioration and overtime spread of this toxic material.

Mansveld also adds “we have to take this risk seriously and tackle it. I want to prevent people from being exposed to asbestos fibers”. One of the main concerns among Netherlands officials is that many of the residents don’t understand the dangers of this material. Some people believe that since asbestos was originally banned back in 1994 that asbestos is no longer a danger but they are wrong. The previous ban only applied to the trade, storage and use of asbestos, but the material was still common in older buildings.

Mesothelioma is a growing problem in the Netherlands, with a reported 481 deaths in 2010. It is believed that awareness of this disease and other asbestos related diseases is low in the Netherlands especially among young people. In fact, many young people don’t even know the signs of asbestos or how to identify it. One of the fears is that many residents do not bother to find out if their home is contaminated and when they do find out they are more concerned about the cost of removing it than the potential hazards.

 

Could Back to School Mean Back to Asbestos for our Children?

It has been over three decades since the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued warnings about the dangers of asbestos exposures in schools across the nation, yet the potential harm to students, teachers, and other school employees still exists.

In fact, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) says “Asbestos continues to be a problem in schools, leaving students, teachers, and staff at risk.” And the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says “It’s a significant problem, any school built before 1981 is presumed to contain asbestos materials”.

Almost all U.S schools that were built between the 1940’s and the 1970’s were built with asbestos-containing building materials. According to OSHA, any building at all constructed before 1981 is presumed to contain asbestos. The danger with asbestos comes when the material containing the asbestos is disturbed in any way. This disturbance can occur during modernization, renovations, or repair work, all which are common occurrences in schools. When asbestos fibers are disturbed they can become airborne and end up in lungs causing serious health issues including cancer. Asbestos material can also become friable which means it can easily crumble with contact. When friable asbestos material is present in our schools it can become a danger to our children and school employees.

The asbestos problem has impacted school across the nation. According to case studies and numerous press reports, t there are countless accounts of asbestos being found in school systems and no one taking the proper action to safely remediate the issue. When a school system is about to embark on a construction project or any project that can disturb potential asbestos, it is important to investigate what is behind the walls.

For the health and safety of our children as well as school employees it is crucial to understand the dangers of asbestos and to stop these issues before they begin.

Zonolite Insulation

Zonolite Insulation is the name of the product sold as attic insulation to millions of homes across America between the 1940’s and 1990s. This insulation was typically gray/brown and consisted of pebble-like texture. Zonolite was extremely popular for it light weight and fire resistant characteristics. The problem with Zonolite was that it was tainted with asbestos. Due to this Zonolite ma be harmful to residents because if your home was insulated between 1940 and 1990 there is a chance there is still asbestos-tainted Zonolite in your attic. Any activity that disturbs Zonolite Insulation can result in asbestos fibers being released into the air and into your lungs.

Zonolite can be traced back to Libby Montana where much of the vermiculite mineral was mined during the 1900s. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that made up the Zonolite insulation. The vermiculite that was used for Zonolite was found to contain some of the most toxic forms of asbestos. And some estimates project as many as 35 million US buildings contain asbestos containing Zonolite insulation. A home with Zonolite asbestos insulation could yield mild to moderates asbestos exposure over many years and this long-term exposure is extremely dangerous to those who inhabit it. This exposure could increase the likelihood of mesothelioma lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

SCS environmental services specialize in the abatement of asbestos and the removal of Zonolite attic insulation. Handling asbestos containing Zonolite is dangerous and should only be performed by a licensed professional. If you suspect that you have Zonolite in your attic do not disturb the insulation and do not attempt to remove the insulation on your own. Call the professionals at SCS Environmental services today!