Hurricane Katrina brought asbestos into the headlines after the devastation caused structures with asbestos containing materials to expel potentially toxic fibers. This destruction and subsequent demolition of damaged properties ensured that those that remained in the area are at higher risk for potential asbestos related illness. Although we know now that asbestos is dangerous and that proper abatement procedures must be followed, countless Louisiana residents, mostly those that worked in industry a few decades prior, have developed mesothelioma and other cancers. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality ensures that properties and construction actions around the state comply with federal mandates and regulation to prevent the overexposure of asbestos containing materials.
What are the risks to the residents of New Orleans?
Aside from the fact that many buildings in New Orleans were built in heyday of asbestos use, the Hurricane Katrina disaster almost certainly spread asbestos fibers from contaminated buildings to survivors, emergency workers and those that participated in the immediate cleanup. It is not yet determined how Louisiana asbestos laws will handle compensation and the claims of those that may become sick with asbestos related illness. New construction should have taken Louisiana asbestos laws and federal laws into consideration and used safer alternatives, such as fiberglass.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a painful and lethal cancer of the lining of the lungs. This is a cancer that develops only in the presence of asbestos fibers and typically takes at least 20 years to manifest symptoms. The nature of asbestos is that the particles are invisible to the human eye, easily made airborne, and do not dislodge over time. Other illnesses of the lungs include asbestosis, which will entail the hardening of the lungs and decreased function.
Why is asbestos a regulated material?
Friable asbestos represents the greatest danger to the health of those around it as it releases fibers readily. Friable asbestos refers to any application of asbestos that is sprayed or exposed to the environment. This will contain at least 1% asbestos, by weight. Any friable material can be broken with human contact and minimal effort. Materials that are not friable may become friable if the durable material containing it is breached through damage or renovation.
Can I file an asbestos lawsuit in Louisiana?
Expect many manufacturers and other entities to defend against asbestos litigation, rather than accepting liability and paying out settlements. Be aware of tort reform statutes that may limit the time you have to file a case or the amount of damages you can collect. You can file asbestos litigation only if you have an asbestos related illness and are able to prove that the responsible party did not take adequate protections of caution to prevent you from being sickened. Those sickened by Hurricane Katrina devastation may not have legal course but might be eligible for Medicare benefits at some point in the future.