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Legislative delay allows continued exposure to toxic material

We have explored the dangers associated with exposure to asbestos in detail. The risks of exposure have led to a ban on the substance in most materials, but the threat of contact with the fiber still exists. Primarily, asbestos exists in manufacturing and construction materials that were made prior to the 1980s. When buildings are renovated or torn down, the chance that asbestos will be released into the air can be quite high.

Many construction or industrial manufacturing workers in previous decades may have inhaled or ingested airborne asbestos on the jobsite. As a result, many of the employees developed various types of lung diseases caused by asbestos.

The asbestos has been used in sulation, ceiling and flooring tiles, paint, cement, and other construction materials. Construction companies need to be especially vigilant in protecting their workers from dangerous exposure to asbestos and other harmful substances. Recently, another potentially toxic material that can be inhaled has been identified as a risk for people who work in construction.

The dust is called crystalline silica. It is frequently found in sand, granite and other products used in construction materials. Breathing in the dust can cause silicosis - a respiratory disease linked to lung cancer - in some workers. Like asbestosis and mesothelioma, the cancer can be fatal.

Recent moves to legally limit exposure levels to the material have been tied up in legislative red tape. For almost a year, legislators have been reviewing the situation. By tightening restrictions on exposure levels to the silica, companies may have increased production costs, which is the primary concern of special interest groups.

Labor officials and health advocates have vehemently voiced their anger at the delay in legislation. Like asbestos exposure, the longer a person is in contact with silica, the greater the chance is that he or she will develop a devastating disease. For decades, the dangers associated with extended contact with silica have been known. By continuing to allow unrestricted exposure to silica, employers continue to put workers' lives in jeopardy.

For construction workers, the dangers that may be experienced on a jobsite may cause long-term health problems. For those who have been put in harm's way at work, there may be methods of collecting compensation for any pain or suffering experienced as a result.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Silica Rule Sits At White House, Endangering Lives, Worker Safety Advocates Say," Dave Jamieson, Jan. 25, 2012

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