For those born and raised after asbestos was banned from use in construction, the threat from this toxic material seems faint. Their generation has been mostly spared seeing friends develop terrible diseases as a result of exposure, and the health risks associated with even limited contact are underestimated. It is easy to forget and underestimate the impact of asbestos on human health.
Thankfully, authorities in North Carolina are now underestimating the risk of exposure. Rainfall over the last fifty years has caused significant soil erosion at the site of the former Carolina Asbestos Company, where asbestos shingles were made for thirty years. The soil erosion has freed asbestos particles, with potentially disastrous consequences for the local neighborhoods.
The authorities, in this case, are doing the right thing, ordering the current owners of the property to hire a hazardous material task force to clean up the site, with consistent monitoring of air quality to ensure no one’s health is at risk. The urgency with which the state is addressing the issue should make clear to all doubters just how significant the risk of asbestos exposure is. It would be wonderful if the risks of asbestos exposure were truly a thing of the past. But as the situation in North Carolina makes clear, there are abandoned sites all over the country where asbestos contamination is still a real threat. Many companies chose to simply ignore the risks even after asbestos was discovered to be a significant cause of cancer, abandoning sites without proper long-term containment.
If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos, you may not even be aware of the source of the exposure until you have developed Mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. Even then, tracking down the exact source can be difficult, as it is financially expedient for businesses to downplay the exposure risks they subjected employees to, and some current owners of dangerous worksites may attempt to reject responsibility for cleanup, leading to long-term exposure to others in the area.
Determining how to proceed is vitally important, as is ensuring the long-term financial stability of those who will be affected by the disease. An experienced attorney can help you determine who is responsible for the exposure, particularly in cases where it can be unclear who is responsible for limiting the risk.