When our mesothelioma lawyers take on cases, our clients are typically people who suffered some type of negligent asbestos exposure many years ago.
This is because mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the thin lining of the lungs and other internal organs, lies dormant for decades before a person knows they are sick. Once the disease is revealed, it is swift and fatal, often striking before a person or their family has truly had a chance to adjust to such a devastating diagnosis.
Scientists with the Harvard University Department of Physics estimate that mesothelioma cases in the U.S. will begin to taper off significantly by 2055 with the decreased use of its root cause, asbestos. However, one recent possible exposure case out of Tinley Park near Chicago reminds us we are nowhere near out of the woods.
It involves a 275-acre plot of land where the Tinley Park Mental Health Center once operated. The health facility, which had treated patients with varying degrees of mental illness, shuttered its doors on July 1.
There were protests and efforts to stop the closing, for fear that there would be nowhere else for these vulnerable patients to go. But it closed down anyway.
Now, officials are trying to figure out what to do with the property, particularly after inspections have indicated that the closed mental health facility is riddled with asbestos.
It’s not clear whether patients were exposed to the toxic compound, which is in its most deadly form when it becomes airborne. What is clear is that the property – which was constructed back in 1958, when asbestos was still in regular use for everything from insulation to auto parts – will be costly to renovate or demolish.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has very strict standards on how asbestos removal must be carried out and by whom.
In this case, asbestos has become a costly burden for taxpayers, as they will be forced to pay for renovation or destruction of the facility if no one else steps up. As it is almost certain, the companies who profited from manufacturing and selling the asbestos will do anything to alleviate this burden. There was reportedly talk of a sale back in 2004 and 2005, and some 75 different developers had written the mayor to inquire about it. Now that it’s become known that asbestos is an issue, the mayor has heard nothing.
This site is like so many others built prior to the 1980s in that asbestos was used in construction. Until those properties are torn down or renovated, the risk of exposure continues to exist in the U.S., despite the fact that asbestos is no longer widely used in construction or consumer products. However, it’s still legal to use – it’s just that many companies don’t anymore because of the litigation that is likely to ensue.
The problem for those who suffer from mesothelioma now is that it can be difficult to trace the exact source of the exposure, and for a large percentage of sufferers, there were multiple points.
In almost all mesothelioma cases dating back several decades, manufacturers and employers knew that asbestos was dangerous. They knew they were putting workers, their families and the public at risk. But asbestos was cheap and effective for their immediate goals. It is this negligence for which they must be held accountable, and our lawyers have decades of experience in investigating & searching for sources of exposure.