Asbestos In New York City
New York City is widely regarded as the birthplace of the asbestos industry. Due to the need for housing and construction in a highly congested area, fire protection has been a top priority for New York City builders for generations. Asbestos at first seemed like the perfect solution as it was readily available, affordable and very reliable in fire prevention. The Johns Manville Corporation started mining the materials for asbestos insulation in 1858, and asbestos use proliferated in the area for the better part of a century.
Today, New York strictly regulates asbestos, but there are nearly 400 job sites, institutions and public buildings throughout the state where asbestos exposure remains a serious issue. There are also concerns over naturally-occurring asbestos, including the asbestos deposits near Gouverneur in Jefferson County. Prior to 1981, this area reported the highest mesothelioma rates in the United States.
“Asbestos” actually refers to any of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals including actinolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, crocidolite and amosite. Of these six minerals, chrysotile and amosite were the most commonly used. Asbestos fibers are microscopic yet very durable against fire and many other chemical reactions. The reason asbestos is so hazardous is also the reason it was so heavily sought after as a building material and fire retardant: its durability.
Asbestos fibers are very durable and very small, so people exposed to asbestos commonly inhaled the fibers without realizing it. Over time, these fibers accumulated in the lungs and caused various problems. Asbestos use declined rapidly in the late 1970s after it became apparent that asbestos exposure led to multiple health conditions, putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk.
Deteriorating Infrastructure Problems
Older cities typically have a much harder time keeping pace with the need for infrastructure repairs, so some problems often linger until they become pressing concerns. During the summer of 2007, old steam pipes insulated with asbestos burst and exposed those nearby to the asbestos fibers. One of the pipes exploded in Manhattan and the other in downtown Boston.
High-Risk Occupations For Asbestos
The construction boom in the early 20th century led to many schools, public housing units, offices, churches, sewage treatment plants, restaurants, bars and other buildings having asbestos in some form. As these older structures fell into disrepair, the workers charged with renovating, demolishing or repairing them came into contact with asbestos. Although asbestos falls under heavy regulation today, construction workers and transportation employees still face a higher degree of risk of asbestos exposure than other professions. Some of the highest-risk occupations for asbestos exposure include:
- 9/11 first responders
- Aircraft and auto mechanics
- Construction workers
- Cement finishers
- Foundry workers
- Machinists and mechanics
- Pipefitters and plumbers
- Sheet metal workers and welders
This is not an exhaustive list – any number of tradesmen may encounter asbestos on the job, and it’s vital for these individuals to know their rights after a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness.
The Most Severe Asbestos-Related Illness
Mesothelioma, one of the most dangerous asbestos-caused illnesses, has a long latency period before it becomes actively harmful, sometimes waiting as long as 15 to 60 years before becoming a pressing health concern. This can make it extremely difficult for people who contracted the illness years ago to secure compensation from the responsible parties. It’s also vital to recognize that even the relatives and loved ones of people exposed to asbestos are at risk. Asbestos fibers can cling to shoes, clothing, skin and hair, spreading to others at home.
Filing A Lawsuit For Asbestos-Related Illnesses
Asbestos-related illnesses are serious and progress very rapidly, so the court expedites legal proceedings for asbestos lawsuits so plaintiffs have a better chance of securing compensation fast. Most asbestos cases can be filed with New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL), which divides asbestos claims into two sections: in extremis, for those suffering from lung cancer and mesothelioma, and first-in-first-out (FIFO) cases for individuals with non-severe conditions and individuals who are deceased at the time of filing.
Work With Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP
An asbestos-related illness lawsuit for lung cancer or mesothelioma can help those suffering from these conditions recover compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income and other losses. The team of NYC asbestos attorneys at Meirowitz & Wasserberg understands how serious asbestos-related claims are, and we work closely with clients to fully represent every aspect of every case. Give us a call today at 800-726-6326 or email us to schedule a free initial consultation.