New Jersey plays a significant role in the history of American asbestos use and litigation. The first reports of the adverse health effects of asbestos were published in England in the 1920s, which led to the first lawsuits over asbestos injury in the same decade. There is an extended lapse of time, however, between this first report and lawsuit and successful asbestos litigation in the United States. It was not until 1977 that corporations were exposed for maliciously and intentionally hiding the truth about asbestos from the general public. These corporations, which were blatantly aware of the adverse health effects for many decades, were finally held accountable for their actions in New Jersey court rooms.
One such corporation was the Johns-Manville Products Corporation, which was the world’s largest producer of asbestos, and opened their first insulation plant in New Jersey. According to internal documents, Johns-Mansville was aware of the toxicity of asbestos as early as 1930, yet continued use of the fiber for the next fifty years.
Since this discovery, corporations throughout the country have been held accountable for their disregard for public health, and are now footing the bill for thousands of EPA cleanup sites and employee medical bills. Today, New Jersey is ranked 6th in the United States for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths. This is the unfortunate consequence of the state’s large textile, power, and shipping and manufacturing economy. Asbestos was used abundantly in shipyards until the late 1980s, and New Jersey boasts eight such facilities.
Other notable asbestos sites include all former W.R. Grace/Zonolite facilities. There are seven facilities in New Jersey, all of which exposed workers to asbestos fibers. The refinery in Hamilton Township was site to the most dangerous levels of exposure, and is now on the EPA Superfund list. A.O. Polymer and National Gypsum Company are two additional companies that exposed employees to considerable amounts of asbestos.
The State of New Jersey now regulates the presence of asbestos in many different applications. The Solid and Waste Management Program regulates the generator and transporter requirements for the management, transportation and disposal of asbestos-containing material. The Department also investigates reports of unregistered and illegal disposal.
The Department of Labor (DOL), Asbestos Control and Licensing Section, licenses asbestos abatement contractors and issues performance permit identification cards to abatement workers and supervisors employed by those contractors. In the effort to protect public health and safety, DOL enforces the Asbestos Control and Licensing Act by conducting inspections involving the abatement of friable and non-friable asbestos containing materials in ALL private, public, commercial and residential buildings in New Jersey, including those asbestos projects performed in schools and public buildings under the Asbestos Hazard Abatement Sub-Code. DOL investigates illegal or improper abatements in any type of building, and routinely inspects the work of licensed contractors and their employees. DOL may be reached at telephone number (609) 633-2159. DOL’s fax number is (609) 633-0664.
The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is the lead agency for asbestos and environmental health information, administers the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, and provides site audits and Quality Assurance/Quality Control program for asbestos abatement in schools. DHSS also provides training and accreditation for asbestos training providers and conducts studies to evaluate asbestos abatement and management methods. DHSS may be reached at telephone number (609) 826-4950 and the DHSS fax number is (609) 826-4975.
The State Asbestos Control and Licensing Act excludes from the license
and permit requirements those employers and employees subject to the Federal
Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 who use their own employees
to perform asbestos abatement work in their own facility. For more information,
please call (609) 633-3760.
Every employer who plans to perform asbestos work in New Jersey must submit a written notification of intent to perform asbestos work at least 10 calendar days prior to beginning such work. The list of asbestos notifications can be found here.
Lung cancer attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm remind residents of New Jersey of the serious and often fatal health effects of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a known human carcinogen, and no amount of exposure is safe. Our lawyers have decades of experience handling asbestos claims throughout the country, including in New Jersey. If you suspect asbestos exposure or development of a related illness, contact our office today for a free consultation.