Day at the Beach Could Cause Asbestos Exposure

Illinois State Beach attracts approximately 2 to 3 million visitors a year, but according to a report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each and every one of those visitors could be putting themselves at risk for asbestos exposure.

According to a report on NBC-5 Chicago, asbestos was first discovered on the beach 10 years ago and the EPA still questions “the safety of human use of the beaches.” However, state and federal regulators say the beach is safe and admit to knowing little about outdoor exposure to asbestos.

In an interview with Jeff Camplin, a local health and safety expert, Camplin told reporter Carol Marin that the most dangerous form of asbestos amphibole has been found on the beach and in a number of air samples over the last decade.

Signs are posted at various spots on the beach, warning swimmers and sunbathers of ACM Asbestos Containing Material. Still, families come in droves to enjoy the beach, but not without anxiety.

The cause? More than likely it’s the old Johns-Manville plant at the south end of the park. Though it’s been empty for quite some time, for seven decades it produced a variety of asbestos-containing products. It’s now a designated EPA Superfund Site. Other potential sources include old demolished homes along the beachfront, most of which were built using asbestos-containing products.

Other beaches where asbestos has been found include Oak Street Beach, by far the city’s most popular beach, packed with wall-to-wall people on pleasant summer weekends.

EPA Retesting New Asbestos Removal Technique

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intention to conduct a second test of asbestos removal Saturday at Fort Chaffee, using a newly-developed alternative method for abatement.

According to an article in the Arkansas Times-Record, this test and the ones previously conducted could result in the approval of a method that would “result in significant cost-reductions for asbestos removal around the country.

The first test, conducted in April 2006, involved two buildings at Fort Chaffee on which two different abatement methods were used: the current National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) method on one building and the new Alternative Asbestos Control Method (AACM) on another.

When test results were released, the figures showed the AACM process cut costs by half, was five times faster, and also decreased hazardous risks to workers.

With the new process, no material is removed from the structure, explains the article. Instead, amended water a sort of chemical foam much like dish washing detergent – is mixed in with water from a hydrant and sprayed outside and inside the structure.

The next day, the building is demolished while, at the same time, being sprayed with the amended water. About 3 inches of topsoil, along with the demolished structure, is then taken to a designated landfill that accepts asbestos-containing material.

David Gray, director of the EPA’s office of external affairs in Dallas, said that the completion of a second test to determine what other asbestos-containing materials can be removed safely using the process is key to getting the new method included in the EPA regulations.

The second test will involve transite materials, says Gray, such as asbestos-containing shingles and siding. The EPA will also erect a white plastic sheet behind the structure to find if it can block some of the debris from reaching buildings that could be near demolition sites, such as in a residential area.

Ruling Paves Way for Secondary Asbestos Claims

A recent Washington State Court of Appeals decision has paved the way for claims to be filed on behalf of individuals exposed to deadly asbestos fibers brought into the home by family members who worked with the deadly material. The decision overturned a lower court ruling and set a precedent that could allow hundreds of these family members and others living in the same home as exposed workers to file their own claims, notes a press release on PR Web.

“For decades, people working with or around asbestos products brought deadly fibers home on their clothing, thereby exposing their families to cancerous materials,” explains Seattle attorney Matthew Bergman. “Until now it has been very difficult for individuals who develop asbestos-related diseases as a result of household exposures to pursue a claim against the employer, even though the hazards of asbestos were well documented by the early 1950s. This ruling gives new hope to family members suffering from diseases caused by asbestos exposure.”

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could go back and change things,” says Lawrence Rochon, whose wife Adeline was diagnosed with mesothelioma in November 2004 and passed away soon after. “My wife was a wonderful woman who took pride in caring for her family. She didn’t deserve to die in such a horrible way.”

Adeline Rochon was exposed to asbestos brought home on the clothes of her husband, who was a long time employee at Scott Paper Mill in Everett, WA. It is believed that the process of shaking out and washing her husband’s work clothes caused Mrs. Rochon to inhale deadly fibers.

Kimberly Clark, who acquired Scott Paper in 1996, had successfully argued in Snohomish County Superior Court that it had no duty of care to Mrs. Rochon because the potential for harm was not foreseeable, notes court records. The Washington State Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s ruling. Judge J. Cox wrote in the decision, “Kimberly Clark had a duty to prevent injury from an unreasonable risk of harm it had itself created.”

For decades, thousands upon thousands of Washington residents were employed in industries that used asbestos on a regular basis before asbestos warnings were issued in the mid-1970s, including the shipbuilding, paper, aluminum, and wood products industries. The state has the second-highest rate of asbestos-caused cancer in the nation.