It’s shocking that despite being a known carcinogen and potential killer, asbestos is not banned in the US. When most people think of asbestos exposure, they may imagine mechanics working on brake pads, miners, or refinery workers. But few of us stop to even consider that asbestos may be contained in our children’s classrooms. How is this even possible?
What is asbestos and where does it come from?
Asbestos is a group of minerals containing tiny microscopic fibers and is used in construction and automotive fields, among many others. When asbestos products are disturbed tiny particles are released into the air. When inhaled they become trapped in the lungs and over years can accumulate, leading to serious health issues.
Asbestos in our schools
Asbestos does not burn easily, which is why it was so popular for building materials. Schools built between the 1940s and 1970s are likely to contain asbestos in products such as insulation, pipe wrap, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, coatings, roof shingles and drywall. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires school districts to inspect all classrooms and other school buildings for the presence of asbestos. While schools are required fix damaged asbestos-containing material that pose a health risk, they are not required to remove asbestos-containing material from the school.
It’s possible for parents and caregivers who work with asbestos materials to bring home dust on their clothing. Employees who may be exposed to asbestos include those who manufacture asbestos related products, such as brakes and clutches. Renovation or demolition of buildings can pose a risk to all those in the construction industry, and custodians may come in contact with asbestos through deteriorating material containing asbestos. Since the tragic incident of 9/11, firefighters and first responders have reported cases of mesothelioma and related cancers due to the exposure of asbestos and other toxins from the collapsed Trade Center materials.
Asbestos in your home
Yes, asbestos may exist in parts of your home, but don’t panic. It’s important to remember that generally products in good condition will not release asbestos fibers into the air. There is no danger of asbestos poisoning unless fibers are released into the air and inhaled. Products that may contain asbestos include vinyl tile, roofing shingles and tiles, and insulation material. If you think you may have damaged or deteriorating asbestos containing products in your home it’s important to call a professional who can analyze a sample of the material.
Legal Action for asbestos exposure
Asbestos symptoms do not manifest for decades, and once they do, the disease has already progressed to advanced stages. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of asbestos exposure it’s important to consult with your doctor immediately. There is a set period of time in which an asbestos-related lawsuit must be filed called the statute of limitation. This varies from state to state. In California the statute of limitation is either 1) within one year after the date you first suffered the disability; or, 2) within one year after you knew or should have known of the disability that was caused by asbestos exposure. Due to this time restraint it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney who is highly experienced with asbestos-related cases.