- Americans Still at Risk for Mesothelioma from Asbestos
- July 29, 2016
- Law Firm: Waters Kraus LLP - Dallas Office
- Decades after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began regulating and eventually banning the use of asbestos in a wide variety of products, asbestos continues to cause the deaths of thousands of Americans each year, including the roughly 3000 who are diagnosed every year with mesothelioma. Most mesothelioma patients are in their sixties or older and were exposed to asbestos decades ago in naval shipyards or in construction, plumbing or manufacturing jobs.
Asbestos Removal Workers, Homeowners and Other Unprotected Workers Among Those at Risk for Asbestos Exposure Today
These days, asbestos removal workers are also at risk for mesothelioma. Many states have worked in cooperation with the EPA to implement programs for asbestos removal training and licensing. The goal is to train anyone who removes asbestos, disturbs asbestos or works at a disposal site accepting hazardous asbestos materials.
According to Dr. Jill Ohar, a pulmonology professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, most asbestos exposure results from the demolition of a structure that contained asbestos. But many employers fail to protect their workers during renovation or demolition projects. Every year, OSHA reportedly receives complaints about employers who do nothing to protect employees once it’s reported that asbestos is present in the workplace.
People at risk for asbestos exposure also include a homeowner who is remodeling an older house that contains asbestos floor or ceiling tiles or an asbestos jacket around the water heater. As a result, warns Dr. Ohar, people should take “great care” during home remodeling projects. When people are concerned that asbestos may be present in their home, especially if the material is in poor condition, they should contact a local or state environmental agency or hire a licensed asbestos-removal contractor. When asbestos is improperly removed, it can contaminate the entire house.
In some parts of the country, asbestos is also naturally occurring near the surface of the ground. In those locations, excavating the site could release harmful asbestos fibers into the environment. The EPA recommends that, when possible, asbestos in soil or in rock should be left alone.
People who believe they have been exposed to asbestos should report the exposure to their doctors. A physician can decide whether an x-ray or lung function test is in order. Although the risk of mesothelioma is greater for people exposed to high levels of asbestos, there is no known safe level of exposure.