When your child gets on the school bus every morning, the last thing you expect is that he or she is being driven to a classroom contaminated with dangerous asbestos. While this may sound surprising to many, the sad reality is that school administrators aren't necessarily required by law to remove asbestos, even if they know it is there.
Even though many types of asbestos-containing materials have been banned in the U.S. since the 1970s, people are still getting sick and suffering from deadly conditions because of this hazardous substance. If fact, while asbestos use has declined sharply over the last four decades, instances of mesothelioma-related deaths has actually increased.
By now, most people are well aware of the dangers associated with asbestos exposure. What many do not know, however, is that countless homes throughout the country still contain this dangerous substance. In fact, you may have asbestos in your home right now and not even know it.
Many countries have correctly labeled asbestos a hazardous substance and restricted its use. Western nations, in particular, have enacted laws to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards. Asbestos abatement programs help remove the deadly substance from schools. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency sets emission standards for asbestos as it is considered a hazardous air pollutant. Superfund provides resources to address sites have become unusable due to the expense involved in removing asbestos. In Canada, asbestos has been classified as a hazardous substance. Unfortunately, international law has no such provision. Many developing nations have no regulations concerning asbestos and there are companies and nations seeking to profit from this.
After spending years seeking new ways to hide from responsibility, asbestos manufacturers and their insurance companies have recently gone on the offensive. Not content to have killed hundreds of thousands of people by spreading a deadly substance far and wide, these companies are now looking to make sick people look like the bad guys and make them jump through more hoops to get the compensation they deserve. The companies are looking to drum up support for their pet legislation, the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act, by highlighting a few bad actors among the throng of people seeking justice. If they succeed, it could become even harder for the real victims of asbestos to get the medical care and compensation they need.
Buying a home can be a stressful process, even for second- or third-time buyers. That’s because, even though a seller is required in Illinois to disclose potential defects or hazardous conditions on the property prior to sale, this only applies to conditions they are aware of. This means, if they don’t know about a problem, then they may not be liable for it in the future.
As some of you may already know, asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that is not only heat resistant but does not conduct electricity either. It’s because of these properties that it has been used as an insulation material across the nation in homes, schools, and factories for several decades.
As we discussed last month, the devastating effects of asbestos exposure on Americans was in no way limited to people who worked for the companies producing it or in high-risk occupations. All too often, asbestos was spread around the environment in the form of cheap, recycled materials used for ground fill and paving projects. Others who never worked directly with asbestos were exposed through dust brought home on the clothing of family members who did -- and that exposure was often enough to cause mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer.
As we discussed on this blog earlier this month, a 69-year-old carpenter from Kansas filed a lawsuit in 2012 against dozens of companies who manufactured, distributed or sold asbestos-containing products used for drywall work. He is dying from a combination of diabetes, heart disease and mesothelioma. The only defendant still contesting its responsibility is Georgia Pacific, which the plaintiff says manufactured the drywall-joint sealing compounds he typically used.
If your home was built before about 1996, it could very well have components that contain asbestos. Shocked? It’s true. The Environmental Protection Agency started a phased ban of asbestos-containing products used in residential construction in 1989, but the final phase wasn’t even intended to be completed until 1996.