The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $240,000 to schools and government offices in Oklahoma to eradicate asbestos and reduce potential future cases of mesothelioma.
While our Boston mesothelioma lawyers are encouraged that such measures are being taken elsewhere in the country, we would urge government leaders here in Massachusetts to apply for similar grants.
In fact, it’s been such a major issue in Massachusetts that legislation has been enacted to regulate asbestos monitoring and removal.
All residential, institutional and commercial buildings in the state are subject to the asbestos regulation as laid forth in the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s code, 310 CMR 7.15. What that legislation says is that all owners or operators (including contractors who work on plumbing, construction, renovation, HVAC, flooring, etc.) are required to determine before any work can be initiated whether asbestos is present and whether it is going to be disturbed during the work.
Common sites of asbestos are the HVAC systems, floor tiles, wallboards, decorative plasters, siding, roofing and fireproofing systems.
Companies that don’t follow the law on this risk not only hefty fines, but also the potential to expose workers and nearby residents to asbestos, which causes a deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma.
So why is it we so often hear about contractors who break the law? In reality, those contractors and building owners are in the minority. Most do want to protect people from harm. But those who skirt these regulations often do it because they can be quite expensive, particularly if asbestos is found and it is likely to be impacted by the work at hand. The DEP recommends having a professional come in to conduct the eradication of asbestos before the other work can begin.That gets pricey.
And of course, that’s why grants like the one recently awarded to Oklahoma are so helpful.
In this case, the funds are expected to be used by the Oklahoma Department of Labor to complete audit inspections of state buildings and schools to determine whether asbestos is present and how best to protect students, employees and visitors from exposure. The money will also be used to ensure that workers who are employed to take out the asbestos are properly accredited and trained.
Oklahoma’s policies with regard to government and school buildings are similar to those in Massachusetts in that they call for “in-place management” of the material. That is, officials must be aware of the presence of asbestos so that they can properly maintain it and reduce potentially harmful exposure. It doesn’t necessarily need to be immediately removed, but it does need to be maintained in such a way that the fibers will not become airborne and therefore pose a risk to those who frequent those structures.
Having this knowledge also allows officials with important information about how to proceed, should they need to initiate a demolition or renovation.
For those who have already been exposed to asbestos, particularly direct exposure for longer periods of time, it is important to seek medical treatment and monitoring so that if you do develop mesothelioma, it can be detected early for boosting chances for a longer life.
Additionally, contacting a Boston mesothelioma attorney can help you explore your options with regard to financial compensation for negligent asbestos exposure.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in New England, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
EPA Awards the State of Oklahoma Over $240,000 to Reduce Exposure to Asbestos in Schools and State Buildings, Oct. 9, 2012, Press Release, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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Important Victory for Military Mesothelioma Victim’s Widow, Sept. 27, 2012, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog