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Though the use of asbestos was largely discontinued in the 1970s, there are many buildings that still contain the product. For the most part, asbestos poses little or no threat so long as it is not disturbed. As a result, asbestos was simply left in buildings in order to avoid the expense and difficulty of removing it. However, when repairs or reconstruction are required, materials containing asbestos may be disturbed. Because of this, there are numerous laws regulating the process of removal, known as asbestos abatement. Here, we focus on regulations under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) or asbestos abatement under NESHAP.

General Information about Abatement

Under ordinary circumstances, asbestos in buildings does not pose a significant threat. The danger emerges when asbestos is disturbed or moved, which releases microscopic fibers into the air. This can occur when work is undertaken on a building, which will necessitate the safe removal of the products or materials containing asbestos. Additionally, opening walls or doing other work on a building that makes asbestos accessible may provide a good opportunity to remove it, even though it is not affected by the work. The safe removal of asbestos is critically important, but can also be expensive, which caused some individuals to not remove it in a safe manner. As a result, the need for laws standardizing conduct related to asbestos abatement became apparent. Both state and federal laws regulate asbestos abatement. The types of regulations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. How asbestos is handled and disposed of;
  2. The training and licensing of authorized asbestos contractors; and
  3. Accreditation of laboratories to test air samples after removal.

Asbestos Abatement under NESHAP

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed NESHAP in order to protect the public from exposure to airborne contaminants that pose hazards to people’s health. Under NESHAP, prior to any demolition or renovation, a thorough inspection of the affected building or part of the building where the demolition or renovation will occur must be completed to search for the presence of regulated asbestos-containing material (RACM). Further, the owner of the building must give written notice to the EPA stating the intention to demolish or renovate. NESHAP requires that all RACM must be removed before any activity beings that may break up, dislodge, or similarly disturb the material or preclude access to the material for subsequent removal. If there is material with RACM on it that is being removed as a unit or in sections, the RACM exposed during the cutting or disjoining must be wetted. This is to help keep it from escaping into the air. Further, during the removal of such material, it must be carefully lowered to the floor or ground level, as opposed to being dropped, thrown, or slid on the ground.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers may choose to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the exposure. These lawsuits can be critical in helping an individual recover resources that will help them pay for medical treatment. One way in which the amount of damages may be determined is by valuing the victim’s pain and suffering.

What is Pain and Suffering in Mesothelioma Cases?

An individual may experience physical and mental pain and suffering as the result of developing mesothelioma. Physical pain and suffering includes a person’s actual physical injuries. This involves the pain and discomfort that the person’s condition imposes on them. In mesothelioma claims, this may include pain in the chest, abdomen, or pain during coughing. Additionally, there is pain and discomfort as a result of treatment the individual receives.

The workers’ compensation system was developed with the purpose of compensating laborers who were injured in the workplace. For victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, workers’ compensation claims may be a method for recovery. However, there are limitations and issues to account for when considering whether to file a workers’ compensation for asbestos claims.

About Workers’ Compensation

Most states adopted laws in the 1920s putting in place workers’ compensation programs. Today, every state has a system, as well as a federal system for federal employees. Workers’ compensation eliminated the need for an injured worker to file lawsuit against his or her employer. Instead, the worker files a claim and may receive the following:

  1. Medical care, such as the costs related to hospital visits, surgery, or medication;
  2. Disability income; or
  3. Help finding another job.

Generally speaking, an injured worker is not allowed to file a lawsuit against an employer for injuries sustained in the workplace. This is because workers’ compensation does not require the worker to prove fault for his or her injury. In exchange for not having to prove fault, employers are usually shielded from lawsuits. However, there are exceptions, such as if the employer intentionally injured the worker.

Mesothelioma is a devastating disease, often not manifesting itself for many years following exposure to asbestos fibers. A particularly aggressive treatment for mesothelioma treatment extrapleural pneumonectomy (known as EPP). The surgery is quite complicated and serious, but, if successful, can offer significant benefits.

What does the Surgery Involve?

EPP involves the removal of as much of the cancerous material as possible, which includes a lung, as well as the lining around it, lymph nodes, diaphragm, and the heart lining. The surgery requires that the patient be placed under general anesthesia. Because one lung is removed, tests must be conducted prior to surgery to ensure that the remaining lung will be strong enough to take over all lung function. Additionally, it must be determined that the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.

The surgery is only viable if the mesothelioma is diagnosed in its early stages, before it can spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. As a result, EPP is often not a treatment option because mesothelioma is usually not diagnosed until stage III or IV. “Staging” is a method of describing the severity or extent of the cancer, with a range between stage 0 and stage IV. At stage IV, the cancer has spread to other tissues or organs far in distance from the area it first developed.

In mesothelioma lawsuits, the burden of proof is on the victim (known as the plaintiff). Simply being diagnosed with mesothelioma is not enough to make a successful claim. The Throneberry Law Firm has extensive experience in helping victims of mesothelioma obtain the compensation they need in order to fight this terrible disease.

Mesothelioma and Product Liability – Asbestos in Products

The use of asbestos in products was widespread for a majority of the 1900s. It is not uncommon for people to come across asbestos today, particularly when renovating homes or other buildings. The theory of product liability makes manufacturers responsible for certain injuries caused by the products they make. For example, a defective product that injures people who use it in the manner in which it was designed to be used may give rise to a product liability claim.

As part of his or her employment, a person may have used many different component products in the creation of a new product. The manufacturers of those products that contained asbestos may be liable to people who developed mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos fibers.

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