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Residents near shipyards disproportionately affected by asbestos

We have discussed how workers in certain occupations can be much more affected by exposure to asbestos than others. For many years, people in North Carolina and all across the world were working in jobs where they breathed in or came into contact with asbestos without proper protection or warnings by employers. 

But there are other people who may never have worked directly with asbestos and are still disproportionately affected by the effects of exposure to the toxic material. These people may have lived in or near an area where asbestos was used, produced, mined or manufactured. For example, a staggering 120 people who lived near a dockyard in the U.K. have died in just the past five years because of asbestos-related illnesses.

Shipyards in particular have been identified as sites where asbestos was used heavily for many decades. One of the most common fears on these sites was that a fire would break out and destroy the area. In an attempt to minimize the dangers associated with fire, shipyards used products that contained asbestos, which was known to be resistant to fire. It was also thought to be a safe and cheap product.

Unfortunately, the damage caused by breathing in asbestos fibers proved to be much more serious than many people assumed. Decades after people are exposed to airborne asbestos, many of them have learned that they have developed a fatal asbestos-related illness. And in just that one location near the shipyards in the U.K., hundreds of people are learning that even being in the same area as asbestos can be extremely damaging to a person's health.

That is why employers and property owners are obligated to notify workers and residents if asbestos exposure is a concern. If they fail to do this, victims of mesothelioma and other illnesses may be able to take action by filing a premises liability lawsuit against the negligent property owner. 

Source: The Plymouth Herald, "Asbestos killed 120 Plymouth people in just five years, shocking new figures reveal," Graeme Demianyk, Dec. 31, 2013

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