According to a recent article from Huffington Post UK, more than 3,000 students in Wales were housed in dormitories that contained asbestos. University officials confirmed the presence of the toxic material, but, because it was deemed “low risk,” the university chose not to tell students. This decision was called reckless by one British health foundation and others are calling for transparency.
As your Boston mesothelioma lawyers knows, asbestos was a commonly used building material from the 1950s to the early 1990s. It was primarily used in construction for fireproofing and insulation. During this period, workers were exposed to deadly fibers present in asbestos dust. If inhaled, fibers are known to cause a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. However, the victim does not normally experience any symptoms of the cancer for decades after exposure.
The fact is, companies knew asbestos exposure was deadly, and they did not warn their workers or provide them with protective equipment. Asbestos was still being used, despite significant risks, because it was cheap and effective at resisting heat, chemicals, and electricity. Companies that manufactured asbestos products and companies that installed the material, knew it would take a very long time for workers to get sick, so they were willing to take the risk.
Workers who faced the risks most directly were not given enough information to make an informed decision as to whether they were willing to take the risk. This failure to adequately warn workers is a major part of mesothelioma litigation. Failing to warn a worker of the known dangers of asbestos exposure is negligent and may even be considered a willful and wanton disregard for the workers’ safety. In the case of willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others, punitive damages may be available. These awards are usually much higher than compensatory damages.
Once asbestos is installed, there is less risk that it will make someone sick, as it should not be releasing fibers into the air. It should remain less dangerous until it is disturbed again during renovations or demolition of the building. This is the reason university officials chose not to tell residents that they were sleeping in an asbestos-filled environment. Once again, we see an organization willing to put people at risk without informing them.
University officials claim that the asbestos material is mainly in the walls and ceilings of dorm bedrooms that have been covered with a sealant. This information was not released to students but obtained by the news service under the British equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The information obtained also showed some of the dorm rooms containing asbestos were deemed too toxic and are no longer being used to house students.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
More Than 3,000 Students In Wales Slept In Asbestos University Bedrooms Last Year, August 20, 2014,Huffington Post UK
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Asbestos Illegally Dumped at Nature Preserve, August 15, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog