What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and chest cavity. In the United States, about 3,300 people are diagnosed each year.
Patients develop mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral found in rock and soil deposits underground. When disturbed, the mineral’s fibers are released into the air and can be inhaled or ingested. The strands end up embedded inside the body and create scar tissue that eventually causes healthy cells to mutate into cancerous ones.
The risk of developing mesothelioma increases when people work with or near asbestos regularly. Male-dominated industries, like construction, have a higher risk of exposure, leading to more male patients than females. However, teaching is an occupation where women are at a higher risk than men.
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Asbestos in Schools
Between the 1940s and the 1970s, many schools were built using asbestos. The mineral was durable and fire-resistant, making it the perfect insulation material.
Asbestos isn’t used during the construction of new spaces, but teachers and students can still be exposed in older buildings. Damaged materials like drywall, flooring, and ceiling tiles are potential sources of the toxin. Schools may contain the poisonous mineral in many different places, such as:
- Boiler insulation
- Ceiling tiles
- Cement sheets
- Heating and cooling ducts
- Pipe wrap insulation
- Popcorn ceilings
- Textured paint
- Vinyl flooring
In older schools, the carcinogen is typically found in vinyl floor tiles, vinyl sheet flooring, textured paint, and pipes. Any maintenance work done on these materials could cause children and teachers to be exposed to the toxic fibers.
There are more than 7 million teachers who work in public and private school facilities in the United States, many of whom work near asbestos. Some teachers have been exposed to it for decades.
The Risk for Teachers
Teachers are more likely to die from mesothelioma than the general population. Since 2001, more than 200 teachers have died from this disease. On average, around 17 teachers die of mesothelioma per year.
Most teachers with mesothelioma were exposed to the mineral while on the job. Some lounges contain dangerous levels as they are located in boiler rooms. Asbestos insulation was commonly used in and around boilers.
Asbestos Regulation in Schools
Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) in 1986. The act Amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began regulating the inspection and management of asbestos in elementary and secondary schools. Private for-profit schools are excluded from AHERA.
The law requires all traces of the mineral to be safely removed from schools by certified asbestos abatement (removal) workers. Under AHERA, local educational agencies must inspect their school buildings for asbestos-containing materials every three years, prepare management plans, and reduce asbestos hazards. Teachers, parents, and school employees have the right to inspect the school’s asbestos management plans.
According to the EPA, school districts must take several steps when addressing the toxic mineral:
- Designate and train a person to oversee asbestos-related activities in the school system.
- Inspect school buildings for friable or easily crumbled asbestos in building materials.
- Prepare a management plan for proper removal.
- Consult with accredited inspection and management professionals to take necessary actions in protecting health and the environment.
- Notify the public about the inspection and how to review the management plan.
- Keep public records of all asbestos related-activities.
Compensation for Teachers
Teachers who have developed a disease as a result of asbestos exposure may be eligible for compensation. Occupational exposure is the result of negligence, and companies that produced the carcinogen should be held responsible.
Filing a claim against one or more companies who produced asbestos in schools can result in significant monetary compensation to cover medical bills, loss of income, and other costs associated with mesothelioma.
Personal Injury Claim
A personal injury claim provides compensation to the individual that files. The cancer patient must submit their claim. Individuals can file a personal injury claim once they’ve collected three things: proof of a positive diagnosis, a physician’s statement, and an asbestos exposure summary.
Wrongful Death Claim
Families of loved ones who have passed away from mesothelioma may file a wrongful death claim. This lawsuit covers past medical bills, funeral expenses, and loss of income. Typically, spouses, children, parents, friends, or financial dependents can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of someone else.
An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will gather the documentation needed to start the process and will help you receive compensation as soon as possible. For more information on getting started, complete a free case evaluation.
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