As the Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog has reported for several months, there were sites across the country that received vermiculite tainted with asbestos, which can cause illnesses, such as mesothelioma.
These sites have since been shut down, but asbestos has never officially been banned in the United States. Many third-world countries use the material as an inexpensive insulator and mineral that can be used to create floor and ceiling tiles, peat moss and other manufactured products.
In the United States, vermiculite containing abestos was heavily used for years to insulate houses and businesses. And for years, people were exposed to microscopic asbestos dust, which they didn’t realize could cause harm. The dust travels through people’s circulatory systems until they attach to the lining of major organs, such as the lungs and heart.
Sometimes, they can stay undetected for decades, up to 30 and 40 years, before symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, fluid in the chest and other problems are discovered. Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal and incurable cancer, the patient typically lives for about 12 months. Those diagnosed typically experienced exposure in the workplace or as part of the manufacturing process. Those who worked in shipyards and members of the military are also at increased risk. The United States military was one of the largest consumers of asbestos and it was used on Navy ships and in shipyards.
Many employers knew the hazards of asbestos and chose to use it anyway, thus putting employees at risk. Mechanics, boilermakers, bricklayers, carpenters, insulators, roofers, plumbers and others who may have come into contact with asbestos may have been put at risk.
More than 70 percent of the country’s vermiculite came from a mine in Libby, Montana and was shipped to more than two dozen plants across the country, where workers manufactured products with the raw mineral. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied these sites to determine the level of exposure to asbestos and potential risks to residents.
Mesothelioma in Easthampton, Mass.: This Zonolite Company site in western Massachusetts received vermiculite from Libby from 1963 to 1984 to produce attic insulation and fireproofing material. It continued producing products with vermiculite from other sources until 1992.
In the 20 years it received vermiculite from Libby, the site processed 183,255 tons of the mineral in producing manufactured goods. According to CDC data, about 1,400 people lived within a half mile of the stie in 2001. A preschool sits just a 1/4 mile northwest of the plant.
Mesothelioma in Ellwood City, Pa.: This site, located in far western Pennsylvania, was operated by the W.R. Grace and Zonolite companies from 1954 to 1969.
The CDC reports that not only workers, but family members of workers and those who lived near the plant are at a high risk for exposure to asbestos. If people have symptoms, they should consult with a doctor.
Mesothelioma in Marysville, Ohio: This site, in central Ohio, was operated by The Scotts Company LLC, which was formerly O.M. Scott and Sons Company. The plant was operational from 1967 to 1980.
Federal agent research confirms that the site exfoliated more than 430,000
tons of vermiculite in that time frame, with much of it coming from Libby.
According to U.S. Census data, about 185 people lived within one mile
of the facility in 1990.
The Ferraro Law Firm provides comprehensive legal services, including mesothelioma legal help. Call 1-800-275-3332 for a free and confidential consultation. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
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