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North Carolina Asbestos Law Blog

What is asbestosis?

Many North Carolinians are aware that asbestos can cause several diseases that afflict the lungs, but they are often unaware of the symptoms or effects of these diseases. We have written at length in other posts about pleural mesothelioma, an especially virulent form of lung cancer that is caused almost exclusively by asbestos product exposure. In this post, we will explore another asbestos-caused disease - asbestosis.

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that is caused by prolonged exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they frequently lodge in the tiny sacs in the lungs called alveoli. Alveoli exchange airborne oxygen for carbon dioxide in the blood stream. Asbestos fibers can irritate and scar the lung tissue. The resulting scar tissue causes the lungs to stiffen, making breathing difficult. In the normal progression of asbestosis, the scarring of lung tissue increases to an extent where the lungs cannot expand and contract normally.

Imported brake parts may contain asbestos

Over the last 50 years, one of the most frequent causes of asbestos-related illnesses in North Carolina and elsewhere was asbestos fibers in brake pads and other brake components. The problem was exacerbated by the need to replace brake pads on older automobiles and trucks as they aged. American automobile parts manufacturers have phased out asbestos in their brakes as of 2015, but the threat of asbestos product exposure has re-emerged due to imported brake linings and brake components that contain asbestos.

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association sent a letter to the United States Environmental Agency on Sep. 6 urging the agency to include asbestos in the list of 10 hazardous and toxic substances pursuant to the recently enacted Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act in June of this year. The act requires the EPA to identify 10 high-priority chemicals and to undertake extensive risk evaluations of each. The manufacturers group wants the EPA to add asbestos to the list in order to restrict the importation of brakes made with asbestos fibers.

Asbestos hampers clean-up of old mill site

This blog has frequently written about the health hazard posed by asbestos in very old industrial buildings in North Carolina and surrounding states. Most often, the hazard has been revealed by the proposed renovation or demolition of an older facility. Occasionally, however, events such as fires and collapses can expose the expose the presence of asbestos-containing products in these old buildings in sudden and unexpected ways.

An abandoned 100-year-old carpet mill in Lafayette, Georgia was severely damaged by fire in November 2015. Several days were needed to fully extinguish the blaze, and nearby residents were encouraged to remain in their homes during the night after the fire. An official of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, after touring the fire-blackened building, noted that many "classic" uses of asbestos products could be seen after the fire - in ceiling tiles, insulation wrapped around the plumbing, and similar uses. He said that few, if any, of the original asbestos-containing products in the building had been removed before the fire occurred. Most of the water used to battle the blaze - 110,000 gallons - was moved to a containment facility in a nearby town, but almost 50,000 gallons of asbestos-contaminated water remain on the site.

Garlock, Coltec announce settlement plan for asbestos claims

The law firm representing several asbestos litigation defendants has announced a settlement plan that will affect existing and future claims by persons who suffered various asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. The plan involves product liability claims against Garlock Sealing Technologies, Anchor Packing Company, and Coltec Industries, who are collectively referred to as the "Debtors," for damages caused by exposure to asbestos-containing products manufactured or used in the products of these companies.

The plan applies to individuals who worked with high pressure steam and hot liquid pipes where asbestos was used in the manufacture of valve and joint gaskets and packing. Specifically, the plan affects claims by persons who "[w]orked with or around Garlock asbestos-containing gaskets or packing, Coltec equipment with asbestos components, or any other asbestos-containing product for which Debtors are responsible." The plan also affects persons who "[h]ave a claim now or in the future against the Debtors for asbestos-related disease caused by any person's exposure to asbestos-containing products."

US Steel fined $170,000 for exposing workers to asbestos

An enforcement action by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against US Steel Corporation has once again demonstrated that asbestos is still a major environmental health threat. Moreover, the outcome of the investigation shows that employers are still refusing to provide meaningful protection for workers against the hazards of exposure to asbestos-containing products.

OSHA began its investigation after it received a complaint about the company's failure to follow federal regulations. OSHA said that seven workers were ordered to undertake tasks that directly exposed them to asbestos fibers. In one incident, five workers were told to remove and replace valve packing material that contained asbestos. In the other incident, two employees were ordered to remove a decayed section of a pipe. The pipe was later determined to contain asbestos.

Many U. S. Navy veterans suffer from exposure to asbestos

Many men and women in North Carolina who served in the U. S. Navy, Coast Guard or Merchant Marine, or who helped to build the country's warships, have been denied a comfortable retirement because they were exposed to large amounts of asbestos-containing products during their military service or while they worked in shipyards. This asbestos product exposure has afflicted naval veterans and shipyard workers with many crippling or fatal diseases, such as mesothelioma, other forms of lung cancer and asbestosis.

Asbestos is a very durable material that possesses many desirable characteristics for ships powered by steam. Asbestos is a very effective insulating material, and it can be machined, cut and mixed with cement and similar substances. Given these properties, asbestos was a common material in the building of naval vessels. Asbestos pipe insulation was used to insulate ship boilers, turbines and steam lines. Asbestos was used in valve gaskets and pumps. Asbestos tape was often used to wrap and fireproof electrical wiring.

Products in which asbestos can be found in NC

Did you know that asbestos can be found in even the most common consumer products? Products made in the U.S. cannot legally be manufactured to contain asbestos; however, some products still remain in use today that were manufactured before using asbestos became illegal in 1989. Here are details on some of the products in which asbestos could be found and that could pose a danger to you and your family.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven to cause terminal illness such as mesothelioma or even cancer. In the home, there can be asbestos hiding behind the walls in the insulation or even in tiles or vinyl flooring. Asbestos can really pose a danger if it is disturbed and released into the air.

What is mesothelioma and what are the signs and symptoms?

Many of our posts mention illnesses or diseases derived from the exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a disease that has afflicted thousands of residents in North Carolina. In this post, we will explain the symptoms of this disease and its connection to asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the tissue that covers the majority of the body's internal organs. The tissue is called the mesothelium, and doctors have identified four types of mesothelioma based upon the section of the mesothelium that is affected by the disease.

Renovations reveal asbestos fibers in public buildings

The serious health risks associated with asbestos have been in the news for over 50 years, and some people in North Carolina and elsewhere may have become complacent and assumed that the risks have been virtually eliminated. No one can deny that the hazards created by asbestos-containing products have been greatly reduced, but two recent cases from neighboring states demonstrate that the hazards are far from disappearing completely.

Workers in buildings owned by Shelby County, Tennessee, have alleged that they have been exposed to asbestos fibers during the renovation of several older county buildings. In response to these claims, the county hired experts to inspect the buildings and remove any asbestos fibers that were found. Work was halted more than once to allow for these inspections and removals to take place. Nevertheless, county employees have found additional concentrations of asbestos fibers, especially in the old county morgue. The county said that it is "committed to providing safe workplaces for its employees." The workers have hired an attorney, but so far, the case has not reached the courts.

How does asbestos make people sick?

Most people in North Carolina are aware that asbestos can cause a number of serious illnesses, but very few understand the way in which asbestos makes people sick and - in too many cases - kills them. In this post, we want to describe the various ways in which asbestos can cause serious illness.

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