Most of those exposed to asbestos and cancer stricken by it worked for a living. They primarily worked in construction trades, manufacturing plants, in steel plants, power plants, or repaired vehicles. For many victims, their spouses performed such work.
The threats of living in a home or apartment containing asbestos also skew towards those of lower income. Asbestos-related illness and death aren’t just related to mineral fibers that are inhaled or ingested. It’s linked to how wealthy you are.
An article published by the federal Department of Health and Human Services discusses the health risks facing Americans with lower incomes in older homes that contain asbestos.
Asbestos Products in Older Homes and Buildings in Poor Neighborhoods
People in low-income neighborhoods face many health challenges. Food deserts offer few, affordable, healthy food choices to residents. Those using Medicaid have fewer treatment options, especially if they need specialized medical treatment. Housing may contain lead paint and be near industrial areas that emit pollution.
People who are low-income earners and those in minority neighborhoods endure unequal exposure to dangerous chemicals and substances. It should come as no surprise that residents of poorer communities are exposed to contaminants (including asbestos) at a higher rate than those in wealthier neighborhoods.
Asbestos Abatement is Expensive. Who Will Pay for It?
While asbestos use largely (but not completely) ceased in the 1980s, prior use of asbestos-containing building materials can be present in older homes, and removal is often expensive.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, asbestos in your basement isn’t your greatest concern. The last thing many landlords in low-rent areas want to do is invest more money into their properties, so asbestos abatement is the last thing on their “to-do list” if it’s on there at all. Asbestos products in these buildings continue to age and deteriorate, emitting more fibers into these homes.
The average cost for residential asbestos abatement can range from $1,000 to $3,000 but go much higher depending on the situation. Those of low income and their landlords are unwilling or unable to spend that kind of money. It’s a lot of money in a country where one study estimates that a quarter of the US population has no retirement savings.
Asbestos’ Dangers Go Beyond Buildings to Entire Neighborhoods
Asbestos is dangerous. It’s so toxic there’s no accepted safe level of exposure. You could also be continuously exposed to asbestos fibers, but symptoms of a related disease and a diagnosis may not occur for decades. After fibers embed in the lungs, they can result in lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
The problem is more than just isolated homes or businesses. Entire neighborhoods may deal with asbestos and other toxic substances. A 2015 Urban Institute study found that low-income areas often have a greater risk of industrial or hazardous land use. Some East Cleveland residents face piles of discarded materials (including asbestos). This won’t happen in an upscale neighborhood anywhere in the US.
Cities have abandoned properties where asbestos was never adequately addressed. These are public health time bombs for those living nearby or just walking in the area. Given the hazards, safe demolition may be prohibitively expensive. If these properties catch fire, residents and firefighters are exposed to asbestos fibers as structures collapse and burn.
Your Local Mesothelioma Law Firm
If you or a loved one are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, or you work at a site known for asbestos exposure and fear the health consequences, you should understand your rights to compensation for the harm asbestos causes.
Experienced Satterley & Kelley’s, PLLC, asbestos injury lawyers can discuss your situation and help you recover damages to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you’ve endured. To schedule a free initial consultation at our Louisville office, call us toll-free at 855-385-9532 or complete our contact form today.