For the thousands of innocent victims affected by asbestos exposure each year, it’s important to know that recourse is possible and legal help is available. Perhaps most importantly, asbestos exposure victims should know that they do not have to be in a financial position to afford legal representation-for valid, qualifying cases, legal fees are paid out of the settlement or trial award received, not the victim’s pocket.
Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness-including other types of cancers, asbestosis and pleural effusion-did not even realize that they were at risk. This is because most victims of asbestos exposure did not even realize that they had come into contact with what is known to be a highly toxic and dangerous carcinogen.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining of hope for those who have suffered the physical and financial consequences of negligent and/or illegal asbestos exposure. Recourse and compensation is possible via multiple avenues, including toxic tort and workers’ compensation laws as well as disability claims through the Social Security Administration and (for Veterans) the Department of Veteran Affairs.
PART XIV: THE TRUTH ABOUT ILLINOIS ASBESTOS
For residents of Illinois, asbestos presents an especially pressing danger. The “Prairie State” currently ranks eighth in the U.S. for asbestos-related deaths from asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma, and other proximate forms of cancer-a fact largely attributable to the high concentration of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials housed in more than 30 industrial locations over the course of the mid-to-late-20th century.
A Brief History of the Illinois Asbestos Industry
As the fifth most populous state in the country, Illinois is home to a sizeable workforce-much of which is made up of blue-collar workers in industries like petroleum, manufacturing, energy generation, and lumber. During the greater part of the last century, all of those economy-driving industries used large amounts of asbestos-made material. As a result, millions of Illinois residents became unknowing victims of negligent-and sometimes even illegal-occupational asbestos exposure.
Lasting Environmental Effects and Ongoing Safety Measures
Though federally banned in the 1970s and 80s, in Illinois, asbestos continues to present a potential health hazard in once highly concentrated areas. Illinois is part of what the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) call Region 5, a geographic area that is known to contain air pollution from other sources airborne asbestos fibers.
Efforts to eradicate lingering asbestos, concentrated primarily in the soil and groundwater near once-thriving industrial sites, are regulated under the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). USEPA-appointed state agencies-including the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Public Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health-are tasked with overseeing all asbestos abatement, removal, and demolition projects. The primary responsibility of regulatory oversight is to ensure that all construction work is carried out in a manner that is both safe and environmentally conscientious.