Although asbestos use has went down significantly since the 1970s, it still remains legal in the United States, and in turn, what’s being called the “third wave” as asbestos illnesses is starting to take its toll on people who worked around that dangerous mineral during the 80s and even the 1990s.
According to a U.S. Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned a lot of asbestos from being used more than 30 years ago, but not everything was banned, including 400 metric tons of asbestos that was used in the United States in 2014 alone. What’s worse is when people work in conditions where old asbestos, used decades ago, surface.
For instance, former fiber optic cable installer Kris Penny spent much of the earlier and mid 2000s pulling out underground cable for AT&T, cable that was wrapped into asbestos-containing cement. When Penny and other workers pulled cable out of or into the piping, asbestos dusts was disturbed, causing tiny, odorless asbestos fibers to permeate throughout the air. In 2014, Penny was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a life-threatening illness caused by asbestos exposure, in which cancer forms in the lining of the abdomen.
In 1990, physicians, scientists, and researchers convened in NYC to warn about an upcoming “third wave” of asbestos illnesses. It was people such as Penny that these professionals had in mind. Environmental consultant Barry Castleman, who attended the NYC conference in 1990, pointed out back then that “in-place asbestos was going to pose a continuing danger to millions of workers and to the general public.”
One of the problems is that there are still far too many people who don’t know enough about the dangers of asbestos, and others, such as Penny, who were never told that they would be working around asbestos. According to Penny’s asbestos attorney,
“BellSouth claims that they stopped installing new asbestos conduit in the early ’80s, so any pipe he was working with had to have been in the ground for at least 20 years by the time he got there. And yet there’s nothing inside the manhole to tell the worker, ‘Don’t do the things that are going to cause you to get exposed. Be careful — this is asbestos-cement pipe. Invisible amounts of asbestos dust can cause you to die.’ ”
Penny is now filing a lawsuit against AT&T, formerly known as BellSouth, yet it’s not only people who did work for AT&T at risk. Per safety coordinator for the Communication Workers of America union, Jesse Davis, in 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Verizon for several violations after 31 workers were put at risk of asbestos in Fairfax, Virginia. In 2014, the state of Virginia fined Verizon again after a crew Lynchburg, Virginia were also put at risk.
As more and more people hit the 20-year-mark of asbestos exposure, experts believe more workers such as Penny will begin to develop life-threatening illnesses. Yet, to this day, asbestos is still not completely banned in the United States.
Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other illness related to asbestos, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area. If need assistance or have any questions, contact us toll-free at 800-694-4856.