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Tornado Sheds Devastating Light on the Asbestos Problem in Joplin

In May, the region of Joplin, Missouri was struck by a devastating tornado, “the deadliest to have hit the United States since 1953.” (Time)

Images of the affected areas show buildings and other structures, both old and new, badly damaged or completely demolished.  When the tornado struck, “dangerous materials like asbestos” (Ozarks First) were emitted into the air, endangering the lives of those who lived and/or worked in the area.

Tragically, it took a tornado to force residents to realize that they’d been living with the highly carcinogenic material. Even though the dangers of asbestos have been known about since the 1800s, it was pervasive in construction till the 1970s. Many of those who are currently suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis developed these diseases because they either personally handled asbestos products, or worked in environments where asbestos was ubiquitous.

So far in Joplin, cleanup crews have collected “more than 2,600 tons of asbestos,” (Ozarks First) for “disposal to a regulated landfill.” (Ozarks First) But this brings no comfort to those who are already dying from one of the asbestos diseases due to past exposure. It wasn’t until as recently as the 1970s that the government began to take steps to regulate asbestos use. Three months after the disaster, Joplin is still reeling and the “asbestos collection process is anything but simple.” (Ozarks First). The cleanup crews’ efforts can be impeded by wind and rain and the protective gear that they wear doesn’t necessarily guarantee their safety because asbestos fibers are easily transferable.

In the past, there wasn’t much interest in protecting workers from asbestos inhalation. As such, many workers in Joplin and in other communities across the country were exposed and 20-50 years later, developed mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or asbestosis.

If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or asbestosis, you are encouraged to seek legal assistance. Visit www.weitzlux.com for a free legal evaluation.

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