Two critical elements in any case seeking recovery for a death caused by mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease are (a) proof that the decedent was exposed to asbestos fibers and (b) proof that the fibers were a substantial factor in causing the disease to develop. In a case that could have a significant impact in North Carolina, the Pennsylvania supreme court is being urged to accept the theory that the cumulative effect of repeated exposure to asbestos is sufficient to meet the plaintiff's burden of proof on the issue of causation.
Most in people in North Carolina are aware that exposure to asbestos fibers can cause various kinds of serious lung diseases, but the risk seems to have disappeared. The use of asbestos in products such as pipe insulation, shingles, and brake linings regularly made headlines in the 1970s and 1980, but those headlines seem to have largely vanished. Does that mean that asbestos is no longer a hazard?
This blog has frequently noted that airborne fibers from asbestos-containing products continue to pose a health hazard both in North Carolina and throughout the country. These fibers are found in old building that are being renovated or torn down, in the shipbuilding industry and in buildings that have older heating systems. Most people are aware that asbestos once posted a serious health hazard, but few people realize that asbestos is still present in the environment and that people are still getting sick from asbestos exposure.
North Carolina residents who have been exposed to asbestos need to be aware of the potential for harm. In many instances, people aren't even aware that they or loved ones were exposed to asbestos when they develop health problems associated with the substance. Asbestos-related disease will almost inevitably result in death to those who suffer from it. Their family members need to be aware of the possibility of filing asbestos litigation to be compensated.
Asbestos exposure can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. Only a few hours east of the Rowan area, East Carolina University recently posted an asbestos abatement notice for staff and students in one of its campus buildings. Asbestos was discovered in hallways in the building. During fall break, a contractor accredited by the state, and overseen by ECU facilities services and environmental health and safety staff, removed the asbestos. More than 1,000 square feet of asbestos was removed. According to reports, the contractor ensured that the asbestos remained enclosed during the removal process, as it is less of a risk to health and safety when it remains intact and undisturbed.
Exposure to asbestos fibers can be a devastating event. Medical research has long documented the causal connection between the inhalation of asbestos fibers and a lethal form of lung cancer known as pleural mesothelioma. People have been and are exposed to asbestos fibers in many environments: shipyards, ships, heavy industry, work involving steam lines, the textile industry, the armed forces, the construction trades and many others.
The recent evacuation of a high school in Gaston, North Carolina, provides another reminder that asbestos is still present in many buildings and still poses a significant health hazard. While no one appears to have ingested asbestos fibers during the incident, the reaction of school administrators shows the high level of caution necessary to protect against inhalation of the tiny white fibers that cause a fatal form of lung cancer.
Many people in North Carolina and other states believe that the severe health hazard posed by asbestos fibers has largely disappeared. While many of the original victims of fatal asbestos exposure have died from their disease or other causes, the environmental threat of asbestos fibers is still with us.
One of the most publicized environmental hazards of the last 30 years has been the occurrence of respiratory diseases created by airborne asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, and it was commonly used in all manner of industrial applications before its health effects were fully understood. In North Carolina, the material was used mostly in the textile, construction, and ship building industries, but its durability and resistance to heat also made it suitable for many other industries.