In recent posts, we have discussed tenants of rental properties who have been affected by asbestos in their buildings. Sadly, these cases continue to come up because too many property owners continue to fall short when it comes to their responsibility to deal with asbestos safely.
Just recently, tenants in affordable apartment complexes learned that asbestos had been discovered in their buildings. As if that is not bad enough, reports indicate that they only found out about the presence of the toxic fiber after renovations on the buildings had already begun. In fact, the work likely would have continued if not for the stop-work order that was issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. Now the tenants are understandably upset and concerned about their health.
According to reports on this issue, the building owner claims that he had no idea there wasbestos present in the building when the renovation plans were approved and the renovation was underway. Despite complaints by tenants about the possibility of asbestos exposure, work continued in the buildings. There were no warning signs posted, no protective seals to keep tenants safe, and no respiratory equipment for the workers, who were also not certified to remove asbestos.
During the work and until the EPA stepped in and issued the stop-work order, asbestos was spread throughout the building. It was crumbling from the walls, kicked up when floor tiles were removed and spread throughout apartments when windows were being replaced.
The extent to which people were exposed has yet to be determined. However, it is very possible that adults and children were all vulnerable to breathing in the toxic materials without even realizing it. Now their health could be in danger as a result of the negligent removal procedures.
Although the building owners are said to be complying with EPA regulations now, the damage of their negligence may have already been done. Should these tenants develop asbestos-related illnesses, it is possible that they could trace the source of their exposure back to this incident and hold the property owners accountable.
Source: The Washington Post, “Hunting Point renters demand answers to asbestos contamination at their buildings,” Patricia Sullivan, April 5, 2014