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As our mesothelioma lawyers have reported time and again, mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that takes decades to develop and is typically deadly within a matter of months once diagnosed.
Research has shown that mesothelioma has a direct link to asbestos, a natural mineral that for the better part of the 21st Century was used as insulation, in brake manufacturing, on naval ships, and in construction and building materials.
While asbestos is no longer actively used, it is still present in many buildings and old products. Laws have been created to regulate the use of asbestos and force both construction workers and developers to properly remove and transport this dangerous material.
When people break the laws and put the environment and human lives in danger, they can be prosecuted. That happened recently in Upstate New York. According to NBC News, a developer violated the Clean Air Act after workers allegedly handled large amounts of asbestos in violation of the law.
The 28-year-old is charged with hiring employees who had no training in asbestos removal to clean out a dumpster at a warehouse he owns in Livingston County. A grand jury indictment states the man now faces two counts of violating the Clean Air Act, which are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case was first investigated in December, when an inspector from the state visited the property after a complaint was lodged. The inspector saw large quantities of asbestos near a dumpster where employees worked. Nearly 100 bags of dried asbestos were found on site and were confirmed to be asbestos after testing.
The Clean Air Act is a federal law, but state laws also regulate how developers and construction workers must dispose of asbestos. It has been recognized as a major hazard, and while it is no longer actively being used, improperly disposing of the material can allow it to go airborne, which exposes all who come in contact with it to the risk of mesothelioma.
Many of the people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma today were exposed to asbestos as long as 50 years ago and didn’t know the harmful effects it could cause. The next generation of mesothelioma patients may very well be unknowing people who were exposed to asbestos when workers improperly removed it, resulting in exposure.
Such exposure is preventable. Construction companies must do a better job of following the law. Regulations require that companies must hire specially-trained people who know how to remove asbestos without it damaging the area or getting into the air. When employers cut corners to save money, it puts everyone in danger. In other cases, apartment residents, students at school, or employees in older buildings where removal operations are ongoing could be unknowingly exposed to deadly conditions.