Several American prisons and schools have been temporarily closed in the last year due to suspected asbestos exposure, leading many officials to be concerned about the health and safety of those who may have been exposed.
Asbestos can cause a slew of dangerous health problems, including mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of lung cancer. Even the slightest exposure can have life-long and debilitating side effects far into the future. The initial exposure is often difficult to pin-point. Protecting individuals from asbestos is necessary and vital because mesothelioma and other health problems can take upwards of 30 to 40 years to manifest.
An insurgence of mesothelioma lawsuits as occurred as more asbestos contaminants have been discovered in schools, prisons and other highly trafficked buildings, since mesothelioma and other side effects of asbestos are preventable.
The most recent school closure outside of Boulder, Colo. resulted in a school-wide evacuation and class cancellation until the risk could be evaluated. Niwot High School was undergoing a $20 million renovation when the suspected asbestos was found in the locker room.
Asbestos was commonly used in the construction of older buildings before it was outlawed, however it is often not discovered until costly renovations years later. Removal is a time-consuming and costly process that should only be conducted by a license professional to avoid exposure. Due to the expense, many school districts, including a school district in Ohio, have requested additional assistance to pay for the costs to remove the substance. The costly renovations, many of which already have taxpayer approval, are unable to find the additional funds necessary to deal with the asbestos.
Demolition of asbestos-contaminated buildings can cause those involved to suffer from the after effects, as illustrated by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Many lawsuits and health-related problems have been reported among the emergency personnel who responded, dubbing the side effects as the “World Trade Center Cough.” Lung function has not improved for many of the EMTs and firefighters who responded, which has led many to believe that the toxic Ground Zero dust contained asbestos fibers and debris. It is clear that controlled asbestos removal is a vital precaution, although more research is needed to determine the life-long effects.
Luckily, many of the school and prison closures have been temporary, with limited if any exposure to students and staff. However, those who feel they have been exposed, or who have felt the side effects of asbestos exposure should contact a mesothelioma attorney to discuss the possibility of a mesothelioma lawsuit.