Cement piping produced in the U.S. and Canada for several decades beginning in the 1930s often contained a mixture of cement and asbestos fibers. The pipes were durable and corrosion-resistant. But of course, asbestos is extremely toxic. Standards for asbestos cement piping in municipal water systems wasn’t enacted until 1953 by the American Water Works Association. Many of these older pipes, which have a stated shelf life of 70 years, are still being used in cities throughout America, even for delivery of drinking water. Many are slated for replacement, and the potential for new exposure of workers during the pipe breakdown and removal process. That’s because while the pipes may not be corroded to the point they pose a danger to our drinking systems (though this may depend on local environmental issues), the fibers are extremely hazardous during breakdown because the fibers have the potential to become airborne.
In the recent Arizona case, Herrera v. CertainTeed Corp., original plaintiff had worked as a pipefitter. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the building materials company after he developed cancer following years of inhaling dust kicked up by his work sawing asbestos cement pipes.
Jurors rejected plaintiffs’ allegations that the materials supplier was aware (or should have known) their cement pipes containing asbestos posed a health risk to workers, but failed to adequately warn them. The family had been asking jurors for $5 million in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages, according to CVN. Continue reading