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