Likely, you’ve seen ads on TV and billboards talking about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, which is one of the more common side effects of being exposed to this dangerous substance. Mesothelioma is a cancer that eats the lining of the lungs or abdomen.
Asbestosis (…scarring of lung tissue that eventually robs you of your ability to breathe) and lung cancer are a couple of other illnesses asbestos exposure can cause. Even small amounts of exposure can put workers or individuals at risk. The more you’re exposed to asbestos, the more likely one of these conditions will develop.
Symptoms of asbestos exposure can take years, even decades to manifest themselves (…up to 30+ years in some cases). Asbestos becomes a health threat when it’s disturbed and inhaled or when it deteriorates, becomes brittle and is released into the air. Common early symptoms include:
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid retention
- Abdominal swelling
The substance asbestos can be found in many places, even naturally here in Colorado in places like the Rocky and San Juan Mountains.
Besides these natural deposits, the threat of asbestos mainly exhibits itself in old mines and old buildings containing the substance. Asbestos was (…and still is) commonly used in buildings where extreme heat or flames would be a concern.
Old mines like the Black Cloud Mine in Leadville are especially notorious. Although this former silver mine has been closed for decades, asbestos fibers from mining processes still pose a health hazard to surrounding residents. Even though the company who owns the property – Arizona-based ASARCO – has filed for bankruptcy, it is still responsible for cleaning up the site(s) according to court order.
Another case that stands out stems from a flood that occurred in the town of Deer Trail, Colorado in the 1960s. Floodwaters that went through the town exposed asbestos in the buildings and still cause issues to this day. Asbestos is also common in public schools where it’s estimated an astounding 63 to 89% of school buildings in the state contain the substance.
Over 400 deaths in Colorado alone have been linked to asbestos since 1979.
In Colorado, statute of limitations on personal injury cases (…including those involving asbestos) is two years from the time a problem is discovered or should have been discovered. From the perspective of pursuing a legal claim, there are no specific laws on asbestos.
However, Colorado has some of the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to asbestos contractors. Enacted in 2001, the Colorado Asbestos Control Act was designed to provide oversight and regulate the certification of asbestos workers at all levels.
If you’re in a construction or mining trade or have been exposed passively to asbestos at a school or through a neighboring mine, it’s important you be on the lookout for symptoms. If you fall ill, you may be entitled to compensation from whoever made the asbestos containing substances.