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Asbestos industry ignored government safety guidelines

The health hazards of exposure to asbestos fibers are widely known in North Carolina and throughout the United States. Nevertheless, a recent study has shown that federal regulations establishing safe limits for concentration of airborne asbestos fibers have been routinely ignored by various industries.

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hired an independent team of toxicologists to review two of its databases from 1984 to 2011 to evaluate the extent of compliance with its regulations. The study concluded that concentrations of airborne asbestos fibers consistently exceeded permissible levels on many job sites across the country. The study identified construction, automotive repair, manufacturing, shipbuilding and chemical, petroleum and rubber industries as the most frequent violators.

Even though airborne concentrations of asbestos fibers have significantly declined over the past 30 years, the incidence of asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma is just now reaching its statistical peak. The study also found that, in spite of the decrease in overall levels of exposure, asbestos concentrations continued to exceed safe limits in various places. The detectable concentrations ranged from 0.0001 to 175 fibers per cubic centimeter. The OSHA standard allows an exposure of only 0.2 fibers per cubic centimeter, a level far below the maximum concentrations found by the study.

Asbestos-related disease may take as long as 30 years to reveal its presence in a person's lungs. Anyone who suffers from chronic coughing, shortness of breath, or chest pain may want to be evaluated for any of the diseases caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. If the diagnosis is positive for asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma, a conference with an attorney who specializes in asbestos claims can provide a helpful assessment of the likelihood of recovering damages from the responsible parties.

Source: Asbestos.com, "New Report: Asbestos Industry Ignored OSHA Guidelines," Tim Potvak, July 20, 2015

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