Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber that has various uses in fabricating materials used in the construction industry. It is a tough fiber that is resistant to heat, sound, friction and fire, thus make it an ideal material for construction and auto parts. Asbestos –cement corrugated sheets are very commonly used to build roofs for low cost housing and work spaces. Asbestos is obtained from high-tensile fibrous minerals such as chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite. These substances though natural and highly useful, are hazardous to the human respiratory system.
When damaged or broken, asbestos releases these microscopic fibers that become airborne and cause adverse effects to people inhaling them. Prolonged exposure has been known to cause severe inflammation in the lungs and various forms of cancer.
1. The EPS (Environmental Protection Agency) has enforced two acts that regulate asbestos. One that addresses asbestos issues in schools (AHERA- Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act)and the other that comes under the purview of the Clean Air Act (NESHAP- National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants)
2. Asbestos Information Act (1988): The legislation facilitates early identification of manufacturers or processors of asbestos materials. This minimizes the time and effort involved in asbestos-related litigations.
A lawsuit against a manufacturer of asbestos can be of two types: one filed by the victim himself and the other by the family of the victim in the event of his death. The compensation for a living victim includes medical costs incurred, loss of income, suffering and pain. In some cases, punitive damages may also be added. The compensation to the family of the deceased is also the same; the procedures and policies differ since it has to be proven in court that the case is genuine. There is also a limited time frame within which the lawsuit has to be filed; though there are leniencies in severe cases.