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Historic buildings are common sources of asbestos and lead

Lead and asbestos hazards are commonly found in historic buildings in North Carolina and throughout the United States. Yet another historic building was closed after an assessment of mold, asbestos and lead detected hazardous levels. The Lexington, Kentucky, courthouse was built in 1898 and is located in the heart of the city. The building, which was the Fayette County court for nearly a century, houses the Lexington Public Safety Museum, the Lexington History Museum and the Kentucky Renaissance Pharmacy Museum.

A complaint from a museum volunteer led to the city's decision to assess the building for hazards. Premises liability laws may be applicable, if it discovered that the city of Lexington was aware of the potential for asbestos and lead in the building, or if anyone becomes ill with an asbestos or lead-related disorder that has worked there.

Asbestos and lead were widely used in construction of buildings in the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s until their health hazards were recognized. Over the past century, many historic buildings in the United States have also been renovated, to maintain them and to allow for modern uses. During construction and renovation projects, lead and asbestos often get disturbed. Workers can unknowingly inhale these toxins. It is now common knowledge that asbestos and lead products cause serious and often fatal diseases, such as mesothelioma, lung and gastro-intestinal tract cancers and breathing disorders.

Potentially hundreds of workers were exposed to asbestos and lead in the courthouse and other historic buildings during both day to day operations and renovations over the years.

As mesothelioma can take from 20 to 50 years to develop after exposure, it is often difficult to trace the source of exposure. Premise liability lawyers trace employment history and exposure to toxins, and then determine which laws may apply in each case.

Source: Business Lexington, "City shutters historic courthouse: lead, asbestos hazards cited," Tom Martin, July 14, 2012

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