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Asbestos in New York

— February 23, 2022

Thousands of buildings throughout New York contain asbestos, so when workers are in and around those heating and ventilation systems, there is a high risk of exposure.

A brief history of asbestos shows that it’s a fireproof material that was essential to many industries throughout the 20th century. Even though asbestos was used to protect people from fires, it ultimately caused harm to humans. In fact, many manufacturers knew fairly early on that asbestos caused health problems but didn’t speak up.

The first documented death of an asbestos worker was in 1906; the exposure to asbestos caused pulmonary failure in the London patient. The U.S. had similar cases but due to the cost-effective nature of asbestos for construction materials, the material continued to be used.

In 1971 there was the first successful personal injury claim regarding asbestos. The federal court acknowledged the issue and awarded a verdict of $68,000 to the asbestos worker who got sick. This led to increased legislation and finally a ban in 1989, ordering asbestos products to be phased out.

Unfortunately, in 1991 the ban was overturned, citing that it would be too difficult to remove asbestos from every building and product. Ultimately it is still banned in some products, but continues to be used in others.

What are the Risks?

When someone is exposed to asbestos, it is inhaled into their body and gets lodged near vital organs, affecting breathing. This increases the chances for developing a few different lung diseases, namely asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, and mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer contracted the same way. Despite the decrease in asbestos use, there are still approximately 3,000 new mesothelioma cases every year.

Occupations & NY Locations at Risk

From auto and aircraft mechanics, to carpenters and members of the navy, there are a variety of industries with risk of asbestos exposure.

The reason that many different occupations are at risk is due to the materials and products used in those industries, many of which contain asbestos. For example, U.S. Naval ships were mostly built with materials containing asbestos since the adverse risks were unknown until the 1970’s.

U.S. Loosens Asbestos Restrictions While Other World Powers Ban It
Photo by Jesse Orrico on Unsplash

Another example is HVAC workers. Thousands of buildings throughout New York contain asbestos, so when workers are in and around those heating and ventilation systems, there is a high risk of exposure.

You can check out a comprehensive list of job sites in New York that had or still have asbestos.

What Happens After Asbestos Exposure?

If there is a risk of asbestos exposure in your home or place of work, you probably have two important questions: How much exposure is bad, and what should you do now that you’ve been exposed?

The amount of exposure that can cause cancer depends. Normally diseases develop after a long consistent exposure to asbestos, such as in the occupations mentioned above, but can also happen after a brief but massive exposure. An example of this would be September 11th, after which everyone in the area was exposed to a massive cloud of toxic dust, filled with asbestos and lead.

Secondhand exposure is also possible. This means that family members of those working in occupations with high risk, are also at risk. If you have been exposed to asbestos and experience any of the mesothelioma symptoms, namely trouble breathing, seek medical care immediately. If you do receive the unfortunate diagnosis of cancer or asbestosis, an attorney can help you fight your case and get compensation for your medical bills and family.

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