Asbestos, other toxic chemicals contributed to ‘Fly Ash Flu’

The dangers of asbestos and the health risks of being exposed to the toxic fiber are well known. Unfortunately, people think that the risks of exposure are rare and isolated instances involving industrial workers from decades ago. But the reality is that asbestos continues to be a risk to people all over the country, whether they work or live in areas that still contain asbestos.

Workers and residence in one town recently discovered that they had been exposed to asbestos and multiple other hazardous toxins when a company failed to properly clean up a coal ash spill that had occurred. People in the area of the spill reportedly developed serious respiratory problems they referred to as Fly Ash Flu after breathing in the ash that resulted from the spill. Recently, 34 employees who worked on the cleanup site and 17 spouses have filed lawsuits against the company that they say was responsible for exposing them to multiple toxic substances.

Reports indicate that workers on site started experiencing breathing and sinus difficulties when they started working on the cleanup of the ash. They were told that the mixture of asbestos and arsenic, mercury and many other dangerous particles was actually quite safe. So safe, they said, that workers could have eaten it every day and never get sick. The workers also claim that those who requested a respiratory mask were either denied or eventually laid off for bringing up the health risks of breathing in the ash.

But the workers say that employers were negligently and knowingly exposing them to hazardous substances. Rather than giving workers the protection from the toxic ash, the employers are accused of misleading workers about their safety and failing to take steps to prevent workers from getting sick. It is reported that lawyers for the workers and their spouses have discovered documentation which proves that the ash removal company knew that the ash was toxic and tried to cover it up.

The lawsuit, like many others citing asbestos and toxic substance violations, is seeking damages for the victims who were negligently exposed to the coal ash. Many of them suffered short-term illnesses and some of them may also have developed irreparable damage to their lungs that will not be discovered for many years.

Source: The Republic, “Lawsuit: Tenn. company covered up coal ash dangers,” Bob Fowler, Aug. 23, 2013