Asbestos Found in New Jersey School District

Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight a recent report from the Hamilton, New Jersey area which found that about half the schools in the district are contaminated with asbestos. In related news, projects to remove asbestos from buildings at Michigan State University were recently halted due to fire damage.

The New Jersey report was conducted by Fraytak Veisz Hopkins Duthie, an architectural firm based in the area. Architects studied all schools in the Hamilton school district and found multiple problems at virtually every campus – only three schools out of 24 were given “A’s.”

This disappointing report does not come as a shock to many; in 2010, the school district cut more than $15 million from its budget because of new state regulations. Because of these cuts, schools no longer had the resources to conduct routine maintenance, leaving the district in a state of disarray.

The most pertinent problems were in the discovery of asbestos and black mold in about half of the facilities. Asbestos was used in construction materials until 1979, most abundantly in schools and residences, in floor and ceiling tiles, fireproof insulations, electrical systems, and plumbing. Asbestos is most dangerous when it is friable, meaning the asbestos fibers are easily able to become airborne and inhaled.

The inhalation of asbestos leads to an array of serious and fatal conditions, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. After the initial exposure to asbestos, these disease can take anywhere between 20 and 50 years to manifest in the body. For this reason, asbestos is most dangerous when exposed to young children. To put it frankly, many older adults exposed to asbestos simply will not live long enough to experience the debilitating effects of their exposure. For children, the potential for fatal consequences is much higher.

Among the other problems prevalent in the Hamilton schools include insufficient capacities, failing drainage and electrical systems, poor flooring, and structural problems such as saggy roofs. District officials will now have to decide between fixing the major facility problems or simply building new structures.

Meanwhile, Michigan State University recently adopted an Asbestos Program to maintain compliance with federal and state laws. The Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) conducted asbestos building inspections of all buildings on campus built prior to 1981.

University administrators determined that one particular building, Morrill Hall, would be too expensive to renovate, and started on the demolition process in spring 2013. The 113-year-old building caught fire in mid-May, however, suspected to have started in the debris on the roof. Earlier that day workers were on the roof and inside the building removing asbestos. Fortunately, the portion of the building that caught fire had already been cleared of asbestos, although it was unknown whether the roof debris that caused the fire contained any of the known carcinogen.

As a precaution, fire crews established a perimeter around the building in order to protect workers and members on campus. Demolition of Morrill Hall was scheduled to begin in June and restoration of the site in July. Due to the blaze, all demolition work, including asbestos removal, is now put on hold until the fire investigation is completed.

Asbestos exposure lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm affirm that disturbing or removing asbestos without authorization is not only dangerous, but illegal as well. If you suspect you were exposed to asbestos, or developed an asbestos-related disease from occupational exposure, you have important legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or wrongful death. Our attorneys have decades of experience advocating on behalf of asbestos victims and their families, and will work to ensure you receive the best representation and largest settlement possible.