According to a recent news report from the Valley Patriot, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) fined two asbestos abatement contractors. The fines were over $46,000 each for violations discovered during a routine inspection. Both violations occurred at the same commercial site at which both asbestos removal companies had been hired to perform work. The site was located in Burlington, Massachusetts.
MassDEP discovered violations during an inspection in December 2014. Specifically, inspectors found 150 feet of pipe insulation made of asbestos-laden material had been placed in bags that did not have airtight seals, as required by state and federal law. The asbestos pipe insulation was also removed dry, despite a requirement all material be wet prior to removal.
As our Boston asbestos exposure attorneys can explain, wetting asbestos reduces the amount of dust which will be released into the air, as is true of any construction waste. Asbestos dust contains fibers, which if inhaled, can become lodged in the lungs or a lining of tissue in the human body known as the mesothelium. Once fibers are lodged in the mesothelium, there is no feasible way for medical health professionals to find them without a destructive biopsy procedure and microscopic histology performed at a laboratory. Doctors will not generally perform a biopsy unless a patient has symptoms of cancer.
Over a period of 20 to 50 years, these fibers can metastasize into a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma, which typically begins in a patient’s lungs, chest, or abdomen, though it can affect other organs and can spread to other parts of the body once formed. By the time a patient starts to exhibit shortness of breath, weakness, pain, and other symptoms, they are typically told they have a very short amount of time left to live. There are treatments that can extend a patient’s life, though there is not a very high success rate and the treatments are often extremely painful. For example, one newer treatment involves removal of a large portion of patient’s lung tissue and washing the area directly with a chemotherapy solution.
Asbestos exposure can also cause other forms of cancer, respiratory illness, and potentially deadly disease known as asbestosis. Asbestosis is a condition caused by asbestos fibers scarring lung tissue so as to cause respiratory distress. Symptoms of asbestosis are shortness of breath, chest tightness, pain, and weakness similar to effects of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), and, while there is treatment to manage pain and extend a patient’s life, if not properly treated, death can occur.
In the cases of the asbestos violations found in Massachusetts, inspectors also found a number of other issues, including failure to place proper barriers at the work site, failure to properly label bags containing asbestos waste, and other minor violations. MassDEP officials said performing asbestos abatement in such a haphazard way placed workers and the general public at risk for asbestos exposure and all of the complications that come along with it. Officials also said operating in this manner is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the agency.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Lawrence Contractor Penalized $46,150 for Asbestos Violations Found During Inspection in Burlington, April 19, 2015, Valley Patriot
More Blog Entries:
Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 30, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog