Monday, February 1, 2016

Asbestos in Electrical Panels

Asbestos in Electrical Panels

As the use of electricity entered every home and building throughout the 1900s, safety measures also had to be put into place. For much of the twentieth century, this involved the use of asbestos. Unfortunately, exposure to microscopic asbestos fibers can lead to the development of serious diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Making Electricity Safe

Electrical panels accept electricity from the main power supply and distribute it throughout a building. It accomplishes this by using cables to connect the power supply to a distribution box within the panel. Within the distribution box are fuses or breakers that connect the main power to electrical cables throughout the house or building.

Electrical currents produce heat and, if not grounded properly, can create a fire. In order to combat against this possibility, early electrical panels used asbestos as an insulator. Asbestos is a poor conductor of electricity and is also resistant to heat and fire. By using asbestos, electrical systems could be made safer.

While using asbestos made electricity in homes and other buildings safer, it also created a health risk for many individuals. This is because asbestos fibers that are breathed into the lungs can lead to the development of serious health conditions. These fibers can remain in the lungs for many years and slowly cause the development of mesothelioma or other cancers. Some of the individuals placed at high risk for asbestos exposure related to electricity are the workers who made electric panels, electricians that installed them, and maintenance workers.

By the 1930s, most homes and buildings had electricity. Companies such as Westinghouse Electric, General Electric, and Johns-Manville (among many others) began creating electrical supply systems with electric panels. Frequently, these panels were made with materials that contained asbestos, including cement, millboard, plastic, tar, or ebony wood. Other parts in the electrical supply systems also contained asbestos, including wiring, which was often covered with asbestos cloth to provide insulation and to protect the wires from flames. Other materials with asbestos included arc chutes, insulation paper, and braided rope. The practice of using asbestos-containing materials continued until the 1980s.

The dangers of asbestos were particularly high during preparation of compounds use in asbestos panel. During this process, asbestos was crushed and refined, which released fibers into the air. In addition, cutting finished electrical panels increased the risk of asbestos exposure. Individuals who installed, drilled, removed, or maintained electrical panels were also placed at risk. The risk was often greater when individuals worked in confined spaces, which placed electricians that worked on naval ships at particular risk.

Compassionate Legal Help

In some cases, it is possible for victims of asbestos exposure to hold those responsible for such exposure accountable. This is often very important because the cost of medical treatment for asbestos-related disease is often significant. For more information, speak with an attorney experienced in handling claims related to asbestos exposure. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel the country to where you live to provide help. We look forward to hearing from you.


Asbestos in Electrical Panels

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Forms of Asbestos

Forms of Asbestos

Asbestos was widely used in the U.S. throughout much of the twentieth century. It provided resistance to heat and fire for countless products at a fairly inexpensive price. Unfortunately, microscopic asbestos fibers also can cause the development of serious diseases, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Further, while the use of asbestos has almost ended, new cases of asbestos-related diseases are still diagnosed to this day.

Asbestos Types

There are six substances that are considered asbestos, with five of them being part of the amphibole mineral family. The other, chrysotile, is part of the serpentine mineral family. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) classified asbestos into these six forms and the EPA adopted these classifications in 1976.

Chrysotile (also called white asbestos) was used extensively during the industrial age. During that period, it is estimated that chrysotile accounted for over 95% of all asbestos use. Additionally, 90 to 95% of asbestos used in the U.S. for commercial applications was chrysotile. Though its use has declined significantly over the past few decades, many places continue to allow “controlled use” of chrysotile asbestos. Some of the products that this form of asbestos can be found in include gaskets, cement, insulation, brake parts, and roofing materials.

The rest of the asbestos types are part of the amphibole family. This includes two commercially valuable types (amosite, or brown asbestos and crocidolite, or blue asbestos), as well as three types that were not commercially used. Each of the amphibole asbestos types are longer and straighter than chrysotile fibers.

Amosite was used because it provided tensile strength and heat resistance to products. Some of these products included cement sheets, insulation, and tiles (for ceilings, roofs, and floors). According to the EPA, amosite was the second most commonly used asbestos in the U.S.

The other commercially valuable type of asbestos is crocidolite, which has very thin fibers. Crocidolite is also more brittle than other amphibole asbestos, which means it can break down much more easily. This also increases the chance that an individual may breathe in those fibers. Crocidolite was used in ceiling tiles, chemical insulation, and electrical and telecommunication wires.

The other three forms of asbestos, though not commercially used, can still be found as a contaminant in some asbestos products.

Help for Victims

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, it may be possible to make a claim against those responsible for your exposure to asbestos. For more information, speak with an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel to you to represent you in your case. We look forward to discussing how we can help.

Forms of Asbestos

Monday, January 18, 2016

Asbestos in Pennsylvania

Throughout the United States during the twentieth century, the use of asbestos was widespread due to its resistance to heat and fire, as well as its relative low cost. Asbestos in Pennsylvania – asbestos use was quite extensive in Pennsylvania due to mining and job sites that produced ships and steel. Exposure to asbestos, particularly over a long period of time, can cause serious health issues, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Asbestos in Pennsylvania

Asbestos could be found throughout Pennsylvania, including in four asbestos mines located in the southeastern part of the state. Asbestos is considered dangerous because its fibers often remain in the lungs for longer periods of time, which increases the risk of the development of mesothelioma.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cited numerous facilities within Pennsylvania as potential areas for harm based on the existence of hazardous waste and contamination. Some of the industries that involved the highest levels of exposure included shipbuilding, construction, pipefitting, and demolition. Some of the major job sites in Pennsylvania included:

  • Bethlehem Steel Shipyard;

  • Penn Shipbuilding;

  • Philadelphia Naval Shipyard;

  • USX Corporation; and

  • LTV Steel.

In addition to the asbestos that was mined from within the state, companies also received large amounts of vermiculite from Libby, Montana that was contaminated with asbestos. According to the Centers for Disease Control (data found by using CDC WONDER search tool), 2,476 Pennsylvania residents died of mesothelioma between 1999 and 2013. During that same period, 473 residents died of asbestosis. The leading counties in Pennsylvania for mesothelioma deaths were Allegheny (288), Philadelphia (222), and Montgomery (205). It is important to keep in mind also that many other victims may have worked in Pennsylvania, but have since moved elsewhere.

BoRit Asbestos Site

To this day, the BoRit Asbestos Site remains a Superfund site on the National Priorities List of the EPA. The site, located in Ambler, operated from the early 1900s to the 1960s. At the site, asbestos-containing material from a nearby manufacturing plant was disposed of. The site was added to the National Priorities List in 2009 because it is located near a residential area, which could be exposed to airborne asbestos. Further, there is a threat of contamination in Tannery Run, Rose Valley Creek, and Wissahickon Creek.

Testing indicated that airborne asbestos levels were not a public health hazard as long as the soil on the site was not significantly disturbed. As a precautionary measure, visitors were instructed not to come into direct contact with the soil. The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) recommended the removal of materials that were contaminated with asbestos and to continue evaluation of the site.

Helping Victims

Long-term exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of serious diseases that require significant medical cost to treat. In some cases, those responsible for your exposure to asbestos can be held responsible. For more information on asbestos-related diseases, contact an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys travel the country to meet and help victims of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos in Pennsylvania

Monday, January 11, 2016

Asbestos History

Asbestos History:  Though the use of asbestos goes back further, it became most prevalent beginning in the late 1800s. While asbestos provided many benefits in countless products throughout the twentieth century, it also caused significant health risks to those exposed to its microscopic fibers. These health issues include mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

History of Asbestos:  Significant Use in 1900s

Before the late 1800s, the process of mining asbestos was not mechanized. This meant that rock had to be manually chipped at in order to extract the asbestos. As the number of commercial applications of asbestos began to grow, demand also increased. This, along with advances in technology, industrialized the mining process. By the early 1900s, production of asbestos had grown to 30,000 tons annually worldwide.

The potential danger of exposure to asbestos fibers was known very early on. In 1897, an Austrian doctor concluded that a patient’s pulmonary problems were caused by inhalation of asbestos dust. In 1906, the first death of an asbestos worker due to pulmonary failure was documented by Dr. Montague Murray of the London’s Charing Cross Hospital. An autopsy of the 33-year-old victim discovered large amounts of asbestos fibers in his lungs. By 1908, insurance companies in the United States (U.S.) and Canada began to increase the premiums, while simultaneously decreasing the coverage and benefits of policies for workers in asbestos-related industries.

In spite of the warning signs and known risks related to exposure to asbestos, production and use continued to grow. In 1910, the production of asbestos was three times the level produced in 1900. The need for construction materials that were relatively cheap and produced in mass quantities led to the U.S. becoming the world leader in asbestos use. While use declined during World War I and the Great Depression, the beginning of World War II led to renewed interest in asbestos. Following World War II, American expansion and sustained military production related to the Cold War continued the increased use of asbestos.

Today, the use of asbestos is banned in many countries, including throughout the European Union. In the U.S., federal regulation was implemented in the 1970s, which eventually led to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completely banning most use. However, this ban was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Despite this ruling, the use of asbestos has declined steadily ever since. This is due, in large part, to the knowledge of the risks of exposure. The last U.S. asbestos mine was closed in 2002.

While the use of asbestos has declined since the 1970s, it can still be found in various buildings throughout the country. This is because existing asbestos may not have been removed, particularly in much older buildings. Renovation or demolition projects of buildings should be conducted carefully so as not to disturb any asbestos. If asbestos is discovered, its removal should be handled by a licensed professional.

Help for Victims

Exposure to asbestos can cause devastating health issues and new cases are still being discovered today. For more information, speak with an attorney with experience handling asbestos-related cases today. At the Throneberry Law Group, we provide compassionate legal representation to victims of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos History

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Asbestos Risk for Oil Refinery Workers

Oil has been, and continues to be, an essential part of our lives. For a large portion of the time that oil has been used, asbestos was also used to protect against heat and the risk of fire. While asbestos was well suited for those tasks, it also posed a risk to people when its microscopic fibers were breathed in. Unfortunately, the asbestos risk for oil refinery workers is significant.

Asbestos and Refining Oil

Crude oil (or petroleum) is unprocessed oil that is extracted from the ground. It is then sent to industrial plants where it is processed and refined into products that are useable, such as gasoline, kerosene, and diesel fuel. These plants are usually large complexes with extensive piping that is used to transport fluids to the various processing units.

Petroleum is highly flammable, which can result in explosions and serious fires. In order to refine it, crude oil must be boiled. This process causes gases to release and chemicals to separate. The risks of refining crude oil require parts, equipment, and clothing to be insulated. Historically, asbestos was used in order to protect against high temperatures and potential fires. Specifically, asbestos was contained in:

  • Thermal insulation: used any place where heat and fire could become an issue. From the 1930s to the 1970s, it was common for oil refinery vessels to contain highly flammable materials that required this insulation. Thermal insulation was also used in pipelines, tanks, boilers, reactors, furnaces, and pumps;

  • Refinery equipment: this included sealants and gaskets, which were used in piping and pumps to prevent leaks;

  • Protective clothing: workers around extreme heat and flammable materials wore special clothing.

Refinery workers are responsible for many tasks, which, in the past, placed them at risk of coming into contact with asbestos. This risk was particularly high when materials containing asbestos were cut or sanded, which released the microscopic fibers into the air. Some of the jobs refinery workers conduct include:

  • Operation of the refining or processing units;

  • Maintenance and repairing of equipment;

  • Controlling of pumping stations;

  • Testing oil in storage tanks; and

  • Regulation of the flow of oil in pipelines.

Texas, California, and Louisiana have the most oil refineries within the United States.

Asbestos Danger

Exposure to asbestos fibers can result in the development of serious diseases, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. These diseases often develop over a long period of time, meaning oil refinery workers exposed to asbestos fibers many years ago may still be at risk. Though the use of asbestos was largely discontinued by the 1980s, due to the prolonged development of asbestos-related diseases, more individuals continue to be diagnosed today.

If you believe that you have health issues related to exposure to asbestos, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. It may be possible for you to recover from those responsible for your exposure. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel to you to help you with your asbestos-related case.

Asbestos Risk for Oil Refinery Workers

Monday, December 28, 2015

Lockheed and Shipyard 2

Lockheed and Shipyard 2:  Designated as a Superfund site, Shipyard 2 as it came to be known, is an area that contributed to extensive asbestos exposure. Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company owned and operated the shipyard from 1959 to 1987. During that time, Lockheed produced several important ships. Unfortunately, this also led to increased exposure to asbestos for many workers.

Lockheed and Shipyard 2:  History of Site

Shipyard 2 is located on Harbor Island on the Duwamish River in Seattle, Washington. At the time Lockheed purchased the site in 1959, there were already signs of asbestos contamination and that shipyard workers were suffering from long-term health consequences. A 1945 report from the Shipyard Safety Conference was known by then-owners Puget Sound Bridge and Dredge Company. This report detailed the health risk of asbestos exposure to shipyard workers. Even with this knowledge, asbestos use was continued as an insulator and mixing agent at the shipyard. Lockheed executives would later admit that the information within this report was never shared with workers.

Shipyard activities first began during World War II. During Lockheed’s ownership of the site, the company held several defense contracts. Throughout the 1960s, Lockheed produced Knox class frigates and seven platform dock ships, including the USS Denver and the USS Juneau. Additionally, workers at Shipyard 2 built Coast Guard icebreakers and submarine tenders in the 1970s. The activities of Lockheed at Shipyard 2 included ship berthing, repair, maintenance, and construction.

Following Lockheed’s discontinuance of operations in 1987, Shipyard 2 sat idle until the following year when the Port Authority of Seattle purchased it. Left behind was discarded asbestos and other potentially chemical contaminants. In March 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added Shipyard 2 to the Superfund National Priorities List and named the site “Lockheed West Seattle.” Lockheed (which merged with Martin Marietta in 1994, becoming Lockheed-Martin) continues to promise to fund studies and cleanup of the site. A work plan was proposed in 2010 and cleanup began in 2011. As of August 2013, the estimated cost of cleanup was $48.1 million.

Asbestos Danger

Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is damaged or disturbed, which releases microscopic fibers into the air. Breathing those fibers into the lungs, particularly over a long period of time, can lead to the development of serious health issues such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos was extensively used during much of the twentieth century because it provided strength and fire-resistance to products. For these reasons, asbestos was often used in the production of ships, including ships built for the U.S. Navy. Asbestos was also extensively used in the construction of commercial, residential, and industrial buildings.

Compassionate Help

Exposure to asbestos can lead to significant health complications, which often result in large medical costs. In some cases, it may be possible to recover damage awards against those responsible for your exposure. For more information related to asbestos-related claims, contact an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, we understand how difficult it is for victims of asbestos exposure and would be proud to use our knowledge to help.


Lockheed and Shipyard 2

Friday, December 18, 2015

National Gypsum Company

The National Gypsum Company (NGC) made extensive use of asbestos in its products beginning with its founding in 1925 and not ending until 1970. This over four decades of use caused widespread exposure to asbestos fibers that eventually led to many lawsuits being filed against NGC. This would lead to the company filing for bankruptcy and forming an asbestos settlement trust fund.

History of NGC

NGC is still in business today, with its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. NGC was originally formed to produce light, flexible wallboard products. The company began including a gold bond certificate with its products promising to pay $5,000 to anyone who could prove another company’s wallboard was lighter and stronger. This marketing campaign became so successful NGC acquired a trademark on “Gold Bond.” The company began expanding the Gold Bond product line to other products, including plaster, acoustical tile, and rock wool, among numerous others. Many of these products contained asbestos.

The use of asbestos in NGC products impacted its own employees as well as workers in residential and commercial construction. Specifically, NGC products with asbestos most severely affected sheetrock workers, drywall tapers, and plasterers. Particular danger occurred for those individuals who sawed or cut products containing asbestos.

By 1990, NGC was over $1 billion in debt, largely due to asbestos-related lawsuits. As a result, the company was forced into bankruptcy. In order to complete the bankruptcy process, NGC was required to setup and fund an asbestos trust to pay for then-existing property damage claims, as well as future personal injury claims. NGC transferred more than $5 million in cash and $600 million in insurance policies to the trust. After emerging from bankruptcy, the company began acquiring some of its competitors. Today, NGC has three primary product brands:

  • Gold Bond Gypsum Board;

  • ProForm drywall finishing products; and

  • PermaBase Cement Board.

All of NGC’s current products are certified to be free of asbestos.

A Dangerous Material

When asbestos is damaged or disturbed, microscopic fibers are released into the air. When these fibers are breathed into the lungs, they can lead to serious health issues, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. These health complications often slowly develop over a long period of time. As a result, exposure from decades ago may only now be manifesting itself into a disease that can be diagnosed.

The use of asbestos was not discontinued in the United States until the 1980s even though the dangers of it were known by many manufacturers several years earlier. This placed at risk numerous individuals, including miners, construction workers, and people who worked at shipyards. Family members were also placed at risk when workers returned to their homes because the fibers would often stick to workers’ clothing or hair.

Providing Help

If you believe that exposure to asbestos has caused the development of a health issue, contact an experienced attorney today. At the Silver Law Group, we understand how difficult it is for you and your family to face an asbestos-related disease. Our attorneys will travel to you to provide the help you need.

National Gypsum Company