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Reservations Lead to Asbestos Risks in Boston

With a population shift favoring urban habitation, parts of the city that people had little desire to move to are suddenly becoming expensive places to rent or buy.  Because of this demand, older homes and structures are constantly being renovated. This redevelopment has been good for the city, but has also resulted in serious asbestos exposure risks for Boston construction workers.

Boston Mesothelioma LawyerOld, rundown residential buildings being gutted to the frames and completely renovated into luxury apartments of condominiums. Land developers are purchasing abandoned factories and warehouses and converting them into high-end residential units. Some buildings are simply too far gone, so the land development firms will simply purchase them so they can be razed with new mixed use buildings constructed in their place.  Mixed use has become a big thing these days where there are retail shops, restaurants, and supermarkets on the lower levels and apartments on the top floors.  There are even some buildings with bars and restaurants on the roof.

Asbestos in building materials was common during the era in which these older buildings were initially constructed.

While it is controversial to those at are against the so-called gentrification of many old neighborhoods, and they may have valid points, the risks were are concerned with in this blog is the risk of exposure to deadly asbestos fibers.

The Danger of Asbestos

As our Boston asbestos injury lawyers can explain, if an employer or landowner acts in a negligent or reckless manner with respect to asbestos exposure to workers as well as environmental exposure, this may be a valid basis to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. There is no question today that asbestos exposure can cause serious and often deadly illness.  This includes malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and other serious respiratory illness.

What many may not realize is that while asbestos can cause the same type of lung cancer we typically associate with smoking, malignant mesothelioma is an entirely different form of cancer than lung cancer.  They are not treated the same, and malignant mesothelioma can be a much more aggressive illness than lung caner, and this is saying a lot since many people by lung cancer each year. Interestingly, lung cancer will occur even in people who have never smoked and were not around people who did.  On the other hand, malignant mesothelioma is a vary rare illness and if some is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, we can be certain the disease was caused by exposure to deadly asbestos, because it really doesn’t happen on its own or by any other cause.

As discussed by the American Cancer Society,  asbestos is not only rare, but mesothelioma was not even a disease that people had heard of until asbestos was so heavily used during the Industrial Revolution in America and Western Europe.  This basically started around the midway point of the 19th century and continued until the late 1970s. However, while the general public had no idea what mesothelioma was or how dangerous asbestos was, those in the industry were well-aware of the dangers to humans posed by what they called the miracle mineral. They also knew that it would take between 20 and 50 years for someone who was exposed to asbestos to become sick they figured they wouldn’t have to deal with the issue for a long time.  They just wanted to make as much money as they could, and this was far more important than the safety of workers. This is beyond mere negligence in many cases and allows for the payment of punitive damages in some case.  As the name implies, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and show the defendant and others in a similar position that this type of behavior will not be tolerated by our society.

Now that we know about the dangers of asbestos,  there should be a very low chance that a workers coming into contact with the deadly fibers, it still happens a regular basis.  Though the general public is aware of the dangers of asbestos, they do not necessarily know what it looks like or how to avoid it.

Renovation, Demolition Raises Exposure Risk

What is supposed to happen is the landowner who has reason to know there is asbestos calls an asbestos inspector who is certified at the hazardous material including asbestos.  Once the samples are collected, they will send it to a materials testing laboratory to confirm the presence of asbestos.  Even if the owner or inspector this is fairly certain there is asbestos on the properly, an inspection must be done and the samples will be send to the lab for testing because there is no guessing allowed when dealing with the deadly asbestos fibers.

A recent news article, from NEIR involves the story of a demolition worker. He was breaking up existing floor materials on a job in downtown Boston when he noticed cracked floor tiles that were glued to the bottom of the carpet he was tearing up.  The tiles were old, brown, and falling apart.  he became concerned, based upon his experience, that these might be asbestos tiles.  he did the right thing and told his supervisor, but his supervisor told him to not worry about the tiles and get back to work so that is what it what he did.  However, he also took some of the tiles and put them in a plastic bag and gave them to an organization that said it would get them tested.

The microscopic analysis came back positive for asbestos from a state accredited lab and this meant all workers should be wearing asbestos protection equipment include respirators or ventilators. This is far more protection than the paper mask this worker was wearing. Workers who are doing asbestos abatement can also do after samples are taken and the state has approved a plan.  With an approved plan, workers trained and certified in asbestos abatement should be used.

In another recent case, a general contractor in charge of demolition of a former YMCA building in Quincy agreed to pay $180,000 to settle allegations of illegal asbestos abatement at the site. A commissioner with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said, “It is critically important that asbestos abatement work be conducted in a safe manner and in accordance with established work practices, particularly in densely populated urban areas.”

Failure to do so could be grounds for a civil cause of action against offending firms.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Renovation boom revives a deadly demon for Massachusetts workers, December 19, 2016, B Martha Beginger, and Colby Curdic

More Blog Entries:
Montana Settles Asbestos Claims for $25M, Feb. 19, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Bl