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Boston Area Demolition Causes Asbestos Scare

According to a recent news article from CBS Boston, a construction crew in Wilmington were tearing down a home that was filled with asbestos.  Authorities allege there were no  abatement permits or proper protocol being followed and the demolition work resulted in a cloud of asbestos filling the air putting many lives in jeopardy.

asbestos lawsuits BostonTown officials did give a permit for the demolition, but admitted they allowed the firm to make a good faith statement that they had handled the asbestos issues and were not requiring any showing of proof. As our Boston asbestos exposure injury lawyers can explain, when a property owner wants to demolish or renovate a structure that is likely to contain asbestos (as most old buildings do), the property owner is required to call in a certified asbestos inspection contractor to take a sample and have the sample sent to a materials testing laboratory for microscopic analysis. The asbestos fibers are microscopic and not only will the analysis determine if it is asbestos, it can determine what type of asbestos is present.

Once the presence of asbestos has been confirmed, a certified asbestos abatement firm must be hired.  The first step is to create an asbestos abatement plan and work with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).  Once a permit has been obtained, the work must be conducted by certified and trained workers who all are provided with proper safety equipment, including respirators or ventilators.  The area must be tented off with plastic sheeting and signs that asbestos abatement work is being performed must be posted in conspicuous places.  There must also be industrial vacuums with HEPA filters to keep any dust contained. The asbestos material must also be wet to prevent dust from escaping into the air, and the waste material must be placed in approved plastic containers for shipment to a hazardous materials waste facility.

When the work is not done in this matter, many people are put at risk.  The fibers can be taken home on the clothes of unsuspecting workers where family members can come into contact with them.  This is known as a take home asbestos case.  In most cases, mesothelioma is diagnosed in older Boston residents as it takes between 20 and 50 years for a person to become sick enough to have noticeable symptoms and go to a doctor.  By they are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, they are often told they have less than a year to live. There is often little doctors can do to save a patient’s life.

They can perform invasive surgery to remove the tumors and use radiation and chemotherapy, but malignant mesothelioma is so aggressive, even their best efforts can do little to prolong the patient’s life, and whatever they can do, often causes the plaintiff to experience even more pain and suffering. This can even include performing major surgery to remove a large portion of one lung and then applying a solution of warmed chemotherapy chemicals directly to the remaning lung tissues.  This may even be followed by targeted doses of radiation. Since mesothelioma is considered an organ disease, so there any not many drugs specifically designed to treat mesothelioma so doctors are often left with taking a kitchen sink approach with treatments that work on other types of cancer. That is also the reason for such verdicts in many Boston mesothelioma case, however, the facts of very case are different so you should speak with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer about your actual situation.

In this case, neighbors assumed the home being demolished contained asbestos.  They were correct.  They knew that most older building in the greater Boston area contained asbestos, because they were built at a time when asbestos was used in almost all aspects of production and residential and industrial construction.  Asbestos has the natural ability to act as a retardant to heat, fire, caustic chemicals, and electricity. It is also an agent used to form chemical bonds in all types of construction materials including glues and other adhesives, and drywall joining compounds. It was also use in flooring tiles, roof shingles, and insulation.

The neighbors saw that no plastic sheeting was being use and there were no signs posted about asbestos abatement, or any other typical and required precautions. One neighbor said there was “plume of asbestos and stuff” that have blown over to his property and covered his yard.

At this point, they were very concerned and they called MassDEP.  Within hours of the call, MassDEP inspectors were on the scene, and shut down all demolition work. They also arranged for certified asbestos professionals to come in and contain the asbestos threat.

The town manager said he believes the property owner figured he could get the demolition work done quickly before anyone said anything and he could “save a little money,” but not having a certified asbestos abatement firm do the work.

As we have seen in many cases, this desire to save money has often been the motive.  The asbestos mine owners, and processors were well aware they were putting peoples’ lives at risk, but they also knew it would take 20 to 40 years for people to become sick.  They figured they would make their money know and worry about the rest later, if there was every problem.  This is a failure to inform plaintiffs of a known hidden danger, and that is the basis of liability in many mesothelioma cases as well as standard negligence and manufacture of a dangerous and defective product.

The town apologized to the residents for taking the landowner at his “good faith” word about asbestos abatement issues and said the personal responsible may face local and state fines. There has been no mention of mesothelioma lawsuits as of this time.

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:

Neighbors Furious Home With Asbestos Was Demolished Without Safety Precautions, September 18, 2017, By Ken MacLeod, CBS Boston

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