Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on several recent discoveries and efforts aimed at exposing the prevalence of asbestos misconduct on the East Coast. Two companies, in Baltimore and New York, respectively, were recently charged with illegal and unsafe handling of asbestos.
Additionally, a student at the University of Pennsylvania just recently finished mapping the risk and environmental impact of asbestos in Ambler, Pa. The student, Shabnam Elahi, will continue her research over the summer of 2013, digging into decades-old records and interviewing residents of the small town.
Ambler has an illustrious history of asbestos production, manufacturing, and now, unfortunately, the deadly consequences. In 2012, the National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded the University of Pennsylvania a grant to create educational programs to assist those exposed to asbestos. The aid will focus primarily on residents of Ambler, where amosite asbestos was manufactured and dumped from the 1880s to the early 1980s.
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The asbestos piles are such a major problem because the carcinogen is resistant to biodegradation; once it is released into the environment it settles relatively quickly and remains unchanged. It does not dissolve in water, evaporate into the air, move through soil, or breakdown into other components. Residents living, working, or merely passing by the areas where asbestos is present are easily able to inhale the asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a known human carcinogen, and the inhalation of it directly leads to serious and fatal disease, such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.
Elahi will attempt to analyze each individual who has lived in the two neighborhoods closest to the asbestos piles and factories since 1940, using mostly census data from the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry. She will examine the health outcomes of each resident and specifically focus on mesothelioma patterns.
Her overall goal is to determine the factors leading to the highest risk of exposure and ultimate health problems. She will also emphasize on the individual and communal perceptions of asbestos exposure. She is working in conjunction with REACH Ambler (the program funded by the NIH grant), which will focus more so on public outreach and the effects of asbestos in lungs and soil.
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The other two aforementioned companies, in Baltimore and New York, epitomize the converse side of asbestos exposure: those who continue to break federal law and exposing unknowing Americans to the carcinogen. The New York case involves two men who were recently sentenced for illegally dumping asbestos waste along the Mohawk River.
One man, the owner of Mazza & Sons Inc, was sentenced to four years in federal prison for the act, along with nearly half a million dollars in restitution and one hundred thousand dollars in fines. The other man, Cross NiCastro, owned the site of the dumping in upstate New York, and will serve three years in prison.
The illegal dumping of millions of tons of asbestos took place over a three month period in 2006, beginning in New Jersey. The asbestos came from demolished homes and commercial buildings in the Garden State, however, instead of being properly disposed of, Mazza and NiCastro conspired to dump it along the riverfront, where Mazza planned to develop into commercial space afterward.
The Baltimore issue focuses on the company Colt Insulation and the work it performed at Dundalk High School. A labor organization accused Colt workers of unsafe handling of asbestos and consuming alcohol on the job. Dundalk High School, like many schools throughout the U.S., had to have asbestos abatement procedures done before it was razed. Colt workers later complained that a supervisor brought alcohol to the location, pressured workers to drink, and failed to comply with safety standards during asbestos removal.
Workers were removing asbestos from the music wing and auditorium on weekends. The improper removal of asbestos threatens the health of not only the workers, but of the surrounding community as well. If a building is demolished without properly removing all asbestos, the fibers can escape into the surrounding area.