Demolition of Asbestos-Contaminated Buildings in Illinois Can Lead to Injury
According to the Associated Press, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it has asked a court to enjoin Zidan Management Group and Dubai Construction from conducting demolition of a nine-story building in Chicago’s North Side. Once a mental hospital and hotel, the building was constructed in 1923, a time when asbestos use was very common in construction. According to the EPA, inspectors and the city discovered that Zidan and Dubai did not inspect, or handle and remove, the asbestos appropriately, resulting in high levels of asbestos contamination.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is used in certain products, including building materials, in order to create resistance to heat or corrosion. A few common places where it is located in some older homes are artificial ashes and embers, certain roofing and siding shingles, the floors around wood-burning stoves, plus hot water and steam pipes. Workers may be exposed to asbestos while constructing, renovating or demolishing a home or other building.
While the presence of asbestos in and of itself is not dangerous so long as it’s not degraded, if it is disrupted, as it allegedly was in demolition of the 1923 building, the little sharp asbestos fibers are loosened. Anyone working near these fibers without wearing protective gear may inhale them. The fibers can imbed themselves in workers’ lungs and cause cancerous tumors. In some cases, this leads to very serious medical problems many years after the exposure: mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis, and pleural thickening.
The EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) both have responsibilities related to asbestos in the workplace. OSHA has created standards to protect the health and safety of workers who are exposed to asbestos on the job. The EPA protects state and local employees who are exposed to asbestos on the job in states without a safety and health plan approved by OSHA.
OSHA’s guidelines provide that an employee must not be exposed to asbestos of more than .1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air in an 8-hour work period. Before being demolished, some buildings must be sealed and have asbestos safely removed using certain procedures or hydrating the materials so that the fibers are not released or breathed in by workers.
Many workers are unaware that they have mesothelioma due to the length of time that has passed between asbestos exposure and adverse health symptoms. Early symptoms of mesothelioma include coughing, shortness of breath, and fatigue that may appear 5 to 15 years after the exposure. However, many workers may not be diagnosed for 30-35 years after the exposure, and by then they may only have a life expectancy of 8-14 months. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that Illinois has above-average death rates of 14-17 annual mesothelioma patients per 1 million.
Asbestos and mesothelioma personal injury cases are complex and urgent. If you were exposed to asbestos at your workplace and have received a diagnosis for mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your harm or loss. Give the hardworking asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (312) 924-7575 to discuss your rights. Our caring Chicago personal injury lawyers are available 24 hours per day, seven days of the week to help you file your case. For a free consultation with a capable advocate, please contact Abels & Annes, P.C. through the law firm’s website.
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