Neighbors fight back after company leaves ‘clouds of asbestos dust’ behind during demolition project: Report

A Massachusetts resident, concerned for his health after breathing in clouds of dust following a demolition project in his neighborhood, was one of many people who complained after a demolition company did a “shoddy” job at containing and removing asbestos.

asbestos caution sign

The Lowell Sun reports that resident David Norton became concerned after a demolition company tore down a home off of Muse Avenue in Wilmington, leaving behind a flurry of asbestos dust from home siding permeating throughout the air. Worried that his health was at risk and discontented with how the project was handled, he aired his complaints to the state and to the media.

“If you look out my backyard, I’m looking at an excavator and a machine where the house got torn down,” Norton told the outlet last year. “When you tear down half a building and push all the asbestos into the center of the building as you’re tearing it down, all the asbestos just goes up in the air.”

The company, Langone Development Group, Inc., began tearing down the home last August after receiving a demolition permit from the town of Wilmington. Within the same day, however, the project halted after numerous residents complained to the Department of Environmental Protection.

“We shut the job down at that point and then required them to come up with a plan to remediate the asbestos that remained in the structure as well as take care of the material from the demolition,” MassDEP spokesperson Ed Coletta said in 2017.

Selectman Mike McCoy drove by the site last year and after looking over it, called it a “crime scene.”

“We need to make people accountable so it does not happen again,” another Selectman, Ed Loud said.

In November 2018, the investigation concluded after the state agreed to a settled fine against the company of $125,000. The amount is in addition to a $4,200 fine that Wilmington’s health director, Shelly Newhouse, had already issued to Langone Inc.

“I think this is absolutely fair,” Norton said. “I’m very happy that someone did something. Maybe he’ll think twice before he does it again.”

Newhouse, however, stated she was “disappointed” that it had to happen in the first place, but feels the punishment is justifiable.

According to Attorney General Maura Healey, who handled the case, the company violated North Carolina’s clean air law and solid waste law. Not only did the company illegally dump construction remains in a deep ditch on the property, but also left behind “visible dust cloud of asbestos in the air,” according to the Lowell Sun.

A bigger concern lies with potential asbestos exposure that can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer. Since asbestos fibers are microscopic, colorless, and odorless, residents were unable to tell if they actually ingested or inhaled the fibers.

Once asbestos fibers are ingested, the body doesn’t have the ability to expel them all, especially if these fibers were inhaled/ingested in abundance. The fibers stick to the linings of major organs in the body and over time, can turn cancerous. It generally takes anywhere from 25 to 50 years for the illness to manifest, meaning people exposed to asbestos can go decades without realizing they could be developing cancer.

If you think you’ve come into contact with asbestos, contact a physician immediately. If caught early enough, chances of successful treatment are more favorable.

For additional information on asbestos exposure and the most common ways people are exposed, refer to our article, Asbestos Exposure.

Additional Information and Resources

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Fill out our online form today to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more. For additional questions, contact us at 800-793-4540. 

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