Maryland and Asbestos Exposure
Maryland has a sizeable industrial scene. It hosts several steel mills, shipyards, factories, and more, allowing it to be a booming and thriving state. Before the 1970s, many industries involved in mining, building, construction, demolition, and renovation utilized a mineral called asbestos (known to cause cancer-like tumors known as mesothelioma) in the development of building materials, tools, insulation, and other products. This was due to its fire-resistance, durability, and cost-effectiveness.
Additionally, asbestos is very easy to find and work with. It can easily be located and mined in various rock and mineral deposits all around the world. Even after researchers discovered that asbestos was a hazardous air pollutant (HAP) capable of causing people to become ill after prolonged exposure, companies continued to utilize it in construction. Over 3,000 different items were made using this HAP and potentially exposed thousands of people across Maryland.
This HAP comes in the form of six minerals and has been directly linked with cancer, making it a known carcinogen. Mesothelioma, cancer that develops in the tissue linings of the lungs (pleura), abdomen (peritoneum), or heart (pericardium), is the most common cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Typically, treatment for mesothelioma requires patients to undergo multiple lung and other organ therapies (including surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy treatment). Still, prolonged exposure has also been known to cause lung cancer.
Asbestosis is the next, most-common asbestos-related condition after mesothelioma. It is caused by lung scarring due to irritation from asbestos fibers over a long period. This causes reduced lung function and increased breathing problems and smoking further exacerbates the condition.
Amy C. has over twenty years combined experience in both the medical and legal field. She understands what asbestos’ cases mean on an emotional level and she has the skill set to help her clients navigate the legalities in a timely manner.
It’s important to understand where the likelihood of asbestos exposure can occur. This way, if you or a loved one has worked in or around a location contaminated with the mineral, you can take action right away. Or, seek treatment if you believe you have mesothelioma or another lung-related cancer.
Several jobs contain a higher risk of asbestos exposure, some more than others. Some occupations with the highest risk involve construction and demolition crews, steelworkers, factory employees, and teachers. The military also has an extensive history of asbestos use in the past.
Between 1948 and 1993, over five million tons of asbestos was shipped from Libby, Montana, to several hundred processing facilities around the United States. W.R. Grace, a chemical processing plant headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, was among them. They have several facilities around the U.S. that received asbestos in the form of contaminated vermiculite, even after warnings that exposure may cause lung damage.
Vermiculite, like asbestos, is a mineral with valuable construction properties that can be used similarly to asbestos. It’s found and mined in rock deposits as well and occurs intertwined with asbestos.
Maryland has several shipyards since it’s so close to the Atlantic Ocean. Shipyards where employees have experienced asbestos exposure include Fairfield and Sparrows Point Shipyards.
Factories and Steel Mills
Bendix Corporation, a subsidiary of Honeywell, and Bethlehem Steel have both been associated with asbestos exposure. The mineral was used frequently in brake linings, clutches, boilers, and pipes, and these companies were known to have either manufactured asbestos or installed materials containing it.
The environmental protection agency (EPA) has been making moves towards banning the mineral for years. In 1986, the EPA put together the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), otherwise known as Superfund, to help clean up polluted sites.
The Superfund was put in place so that companies could be held responsible for adequately extracting and disposing of harmful, toxic substances on contaminated job sites. If a group or individual does not come forward to take responsibility, the EPA will take care of it themselves by taking money from the Superfund toward cleaning the site.
The EPA also has a comprehensive list of all its Superfund sites, places in Maryland include:
- Elkton Farm Firehole
- Cleveland Trencher
The U.S. military has an extensive history of asbestos usage (leading to the treatment of many soldiers for mesothelioma and other cancers of the lung and chest). In fact, veterans account for 30 percent of mesothelioma victims. This carcinogen has been used in building military barracks, equipment, vehicles, aircraft, ships, shipyards, boiler rooms, and more.
Annapolis, a U.S. naval base in Annapolis, Maryland, has had its own history with asbestos exposure. It’s currently in a state of disrepair, suffering from leaking pipes, molded walls, and more. The naval institution is presently facing threats to be shut down until repairs can be made after a 2018 audit uncovered several issues.
Other Aged Structures
Buildings and structures older than 1970 all have a high-risk for asbestos contamination. The carcinogen was used a lot in residential homes as well as schools and other commercial structures all over the U.S. Places where asbestos is likely to be found include, but are not limited to:
- Air duct coverings
- Door gaskets
- Exterior window panels
- Popcorn ceilings
- Textured paint and patching compounds
- Vinyl floor tiles, sheet flooring, and adhesives
- Water tanks
Asbestos is only dangerous when its fibers are disturbed and expelled into the air where it can be inhaled into the pathways of a lung. If you happen to have an older home with asbestos-products inside, the risk of exposure can be lower. Are you planning on renovating or demolishing parts of your home? You must provide proper notification to your local environmental protection agency, as well as have a trained and accredited professional eradicate the mineral before any construction can legally be done.
Regulations Against Asbestos
The use of the carcinogenic mineral hasn’t been illegal for very long. Bans on asbestos only recently started surfacing as late as 1970 with the CAA. Learn more about the history of national asbestos regulations, as well as what state laws Maryland has in place to minimize asbestos exposure.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) was put in place to prohibit the use of legal asbestos in specific capacities, such as insulation and spray-applied surfacing. Between 1970 and today, more regulations were passed against the use of the mineral. The most recent step in this direction was the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), which was passed in 2018. Developed by the EPA under the CAA, the NESHAP further regulates the legal removal of asbestos, demolition, renovation, and construction. These rules keep business owners, contractors, and managers accountable, and are the nation’s stationary source standard for HAPs.
Maryland State Laws
Even though there are national laws put in place, each state can choose to pass their own legal regulations. Maryland has developed state laws on several matters regarding asbestos, including stricter rules regarding:
- Labor and employment
- Accreditation of individuals involved in asbestos
- Approval of training courses for those involved with asbestos
- Asbestos abatement (removal)
- Asbestos forms
Legal Actions for Maryland Residents
Odds are if you were exposed to asbestos while on the job, it’s due to your employer’s negligence and it is likely their legal responsibility. If this is the case, then you and your family could be entitled to financial compensation by filing a legal claim. Talk to an experienced attorney about the complexities of your case, everyone’s situation is different and will be needed to be handled in a certain way.
Treatment Centers Near Maryland
Being diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related condition is a difficult and scary time for people and their families. Having an experienced medical professional and trusted treatment center can largely alleviate some worries, as they’ve encountered other patients with similar conditions and can offer you some of the best information, treatment, and care around.
Treatment centers around Maryland include:
- Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Main #: (410) 955 5222
- The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center
Main #: (410) 328 7904
- Abramson Cancer Center
Main #: (215) 615 5858
- UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
Main #: (412) 647 2811
- Fox Chase Cancer Center
Cancer Information Line: 1 (888) 369 2427
- The Wistar Institute Cancer Center
Main #: (215) 898 3700
- Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center | Thomas Jefferson University
Main #: (215) 898 3700
- Massey Cancer Center
General Information: (804) 828 0450
New Patients: (804) 828 5116
- University of Virginia Cancer Center
Main #: (434) 924 3627
Toll free: 1 (800) 223 9173
We have many resources on asbestos, mesothelioma, other asbestos-related lung illnesses, patient legal options, and more, all available in our downloadable, free guide. More information can also be found on the Environmental Protection Agency and National Cancer Institute websites.
If you live in Maryland and would like to contact someone about safety and health information on the legal or illegal presence of asbestos, you can call:
Maryland Department of the Environment
Asbestos Division | Safety and Health Information
(410) 537 3200