In the town of Belchertown, Massachusetts, residents have been waiting many years for the demolition of the State School for the Mentally Retarded. According to a recent news feature from New England Public Radio, prior to its closing in 1992, the school was often referred to as a snake pit.
This was 20 years after it was revealed as part of a federal lawsuit that there were numerous hazardous and inhumane conditions at the school, including raw sewage in the cafeteria, toilets and showers in public areas, nonworking fire alarms, and incidents of abuse and neglect.
The building still stands because the town had difficulty finding a buyer who will agree to pay the high cost of asbestos abatement. As our Boston asbestos exposure lawyers understand, this is increasingly an issue among New England’s many old structures.
Asbestos is made up of six silica minerals and is naturally resistant to heat, fire, chemicals, and electricity. In the late 1800s through the 1980s, asbestos was used extensively in construction and manufacturing, as well as in commercial and industrial products. Buildings throughout Massachusetts contain asbestos in flooring material, drywall joint compound, roof tiles, pipe insulation, and attic and wall insulation.
Removal of this asbestos in older buildings being renovated or demolished first requires a licensed asbestos abatement company perform an inspection. Once it has been confirmed that asbestos in present, the building owner must apply for various permits before beginning work on the project.
At this point, the certified contractor will have its workers, who have been properly trained in asbestos safety, remove the asbestos material. These workers will have protective clothing and respirators.
While this is the correct way to remove asbestos, many landowners do not want to spend the money to do things properly and will simply have unsuspecting workers who are not trained to identify asbestos do the work. These workers are generally not told they are dealing with asbestos and are not given respirators or proper protective clothing.
If these workers breath deadly asbestos fibers, they can become embedded in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium and develop into mesothelioma or lung cancer. However, it normally takes between 20 and 50 years for those exposed to asbestos to develop any symptoms of the disease, and by the time they do, they often have only a short time left to live. It is for this reason that property owners are willing to put their own financial needs above the health and safety of their workers. They know it will be many years before anyone becomes sick.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, your exposure to asbestos likely happened decades ago. One of the most important things you can do to help maximize your chance for a financial recovery is figure out when and where you were exposed.
For example, working a renovation or demolition project in an older building or working in a factory or automotive repair shop could have led the exposure.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
More Blog Entries:
Mesothelioma Effects on Small England Town, July 26, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog