Asbestos removal is a complicated process. When a landowner knows or has reason to know there is asbestos present in an owned structure and has renovation or demolition plans, there are certain steps that must be taken to prevent asbestos exposure that could harm workers or cause environmental damage.
First, licensed asbestos inspector must be hired to determine if asbestos is actually present. There are a lot of telltale signs that a certain building material contains asbestos, such as nine inch by nine inch or 12 by 12 inch linoleum tiles manufactured during the 1970s. However, the only way to be sure is to have a sample of the material cut out and sent to a testing laboratory where a microscopic examination can be performed to see if the asbestos fibers are present.
As our Boston mesothelioma attorneys can explain, when these asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs and the tissue that lines the abdominal cavity, the chest, and other organs. After a period of around 20 to 50 years, they can metastasize into a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. There is no way to detect if a victim has inhaled the fibers, because they are microscopic in size, and a doctor would need to perform a destructive biopsy, which requires cutting a portion of the patient’s organ tissue. A doctor will generally not conduct a biopsy on a patient who is not exhibiting symptoms, since there is a risk involved. Even if they did detect the fibers, there is not much they could do to remove them or prevent mesothelioma from developing.
According to a recent news article from The Worchester Telegram, a real estate company has been fined over asbestos removal allegedly in violation of state regulations. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDep) issued the fine of $15,000 against the alleged violator for improper removal of asbestos-containing flooring materials from the now-closed Worcester City Hospital. These flooring tiles were the kind frequently used in construction projects from the Second World War to the early 1980s. They were extremely cheap to manufacture, lasted a long time, and were naturally resistant to heat, fire, and caustic chemicals, which was important in institutional settings.
One of the main requirements when removing asbestos-containing floor titles is that the material must be removed wet. One of the common strategies for containing asbestos is to wet the material. Wet material gives off less dust, which reduces the chance of asbestos exposure. However, trained certified asbestos abatement professionals must perform even this method, and the waste water must be contained, as do the flooring materials themselves.
In this case, regulators alleged the firm used an unlicensed contractor to simply remove the flooring material and dispose of it improperly. This is a serious violation of the regulations in place concerning asbestos abatement. The property owner in this question agreed to pay the fine and entered into a disciplinary settlement.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
UMass Memorial Realty fined over asbestos removal, July 14, 2015, Worcester Telegram
More Blog Entries:
Bostic v. Georgia-Pacific Corp.: Actual and Proximate Causation in Mesothelioma Litigation, July 21, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog