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Asbestos Exposure Attorney in Grand Forks, North Dakota

Though the use of asbestos in construction and manufacturing was warned against by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1977, it is estimated that some 1.3 million Americans are still exposed to asbestos each day at work.

Asbestos was – and still is – a commonplace product because its fibers are strong but not heavy, and it provides both insulation and fire-retardant qualities. Many homes built before the 1980s used asbestos in vinyl flooring and wallpaper, adhesives, ducting, roofing, and more. Asbestos has also been discovered in makeup, cosmetics, and even talcum powder.

Exposure to asbestos through inhalation can lead to a variety of physical problems and diseases, including asbestosis lung disease, changes in the lining of the chest cavity, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Since symptoms take years or even decades to appear, a victim may have long left the source of the exposure, and the company or place where the exposure took place may no longer even exist.

If you or a loved one is suffering from an asbestos-related disease in or around Grand Forks, North Dakota, or anywhere in the state, including Minot, Bismarck and Fargo, contact the asbestos litigation law firm of David C. Thompson, P.C. 

With over four decades of experience representing those who are suffering because of toxic or chemical exposure, David C. Thompson will meet with you, discuss your situation and diagnosis, and present your legal options for you to recover compensation for your suffering.

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What Causes Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos fibers must become airborne and be inhaled to cause physical damage. Homes and structures that relied on asbestos in manufacturing can pose a risk when renovations, repairs, or demolition takes place, unleashing the fibers into the air.

Workers in construction, shipyards, and factories generally face the greatest risk of exposure. U.S. veterans are also susceptible because of the military’s reliance on asbestos, especially on U.S. Navy ships. Also, workers in automotive garages and gas stations are also susceptible to exposure since asbestos is used in brakes, spark plugs, mufflers, air conditioning, and even decals.

Secondary exposure is also possible. Those who work around asbestos can bring the fibers home on their clothes and expose family members to the substance. This is less so now because of government-mandated restrictions and the requirement for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) that restricts or prevents exposure.

Asbestos Laws and Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been at the forefront of regulating asbestos use. In April 2019, it issued what it called its Final Asbestos Rule, which stated that “asbestos products that are no longer on the market cannot return to commerce without the Agency evaluating them and putting in place any necessary restrictions or prohibiting use.”

The EPA also has several laws in place regarding asbestos, including the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), the Asbestos Information Act (AIA), the Clean Air Act, (CAA), and the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA), among other laws and regulations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces standards for the use of asbestos in work environments, mandating PPE be used around the substance.

OSHA has also issued an asbestos standard limiting the exposure of employees to the substance, which is called the permissible exposure limit (PELS). 

The standard mandates that employers “shall ensure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of asbestos in excess of 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air as an eight (8)-hour time-weighted average (TWA)” and that “no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of asbestos in excess of 1.0 fiber per cubic centimeter of air (1 f/cc) as averaged over a sampling period of thirty (30) minutes.” The standard also defines measurement methods.

Potential Consequences
of Asbestos Exposure

If OSHA standards are not observed, or if exposure to airborne asbestos fibers is not recognized or regulated at the time, the results can be devastating, including:

  • Asbestos-related lung cancer: As a carcinogenic toxin, asbestos is a well-known cause of lung cancer.

  • Asbestosis: The tiny air sacs that allow you to breathe can be scarred from asbestos fibers. This scarring of the lung tissue, called asbestosis, is a debilitating disease that steals the breath of its victims.

  • Pleural asbestos diseases: The lining of the lungs is susceptible to many painful and debilitating conditions when asbestos fibers invade the membrane, called the pleura. Some pleural asbestos diseases are relatively manageable while others can be fatal.

  • Pleural thickening disease: Diffuse scarring of the membrane surrounding the lungs and chest cavity is known as pleural thickening. The large scars can make breathing painful. In extreme cases, respiratory failure is possible.

  • Pleural mesothelioma: Asbestos embedded in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity can trigger the development of malignant tumors. Pleural mesothelioma is generally a deadly form of cancer.

What to Do When Injury Occurs

If you are exposed to asbestos at work and fall ill, you will be covered by workers’ compensation, which is a no-fault system, meaning neither employer nor employee can be held responsible for the injury or illness under most circumstances. However, since asbestos-related diseases can take years and even decades to appear, the victim may no longer be employed at the same firm, and the firm may not even exist any longer. Also, workers’ compensation claims are only good for two years after the injury or illness.

Nonetheless, you still may be able to recover compensation either from the company that manufactured the asbestos or installed it, or from the insurance company or asbestos victims’ trust fund that has assumed liability for the company you worked for, or from the VA if you’re a veteran.

In many cases, you can pursue a personal injury lawsuit that can lead to compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include medical expenses and wages lost due to the illness. Non-economic losses include compensation for your pain and suffering.

You have six years from the date of your diagnosis to file a lawsuit under North Dakota statutes.

Asbestos Exposure Attorney Serving Grand Forks, North Dakota

With over four decades of experience in helping others who have fallen victim to asbestos and other types of toxic exposure, David C. Thompson will meet with you to discuss your situation and then guide you toward seeking the compensation you deserve for your illness or injuries. Wherever you are in North Dakota, contact David C. Thompson, P.C. to schedule a free consultation.