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Over a period of 14 years, from 1999 to 2013, more than 6,000 people in Massachusetts have died because of illnesses related to asbestos exposure. More than 1,000 of these people died from mesothelioma, the rare and aggressive type of cancer that is strongly associated with inhaling fibers of harmful asbestos. Some of these people were able to work with a Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyer to recover damages, but for others it was too late.

Much of the exposure to asbestos in the state that has caused illnesses and deaths can be attributed to workplace exposure. The strong maritime industry here, as well as many other industrial workplaces, has been the major source of harmful asbestos fibers that contaminated the air and exposed workers. Massachusetts ranks high among the 50 states for asbestos deaths, but this is changing as state laws aim to protect more people.

Asbestos in Massachusetts

Asbestos is found in Massachusetts in a number of locations, but the main way in which residents have been exposed is through their workplaces. Most industrial work sites have used asbestos at some point in time and have put workers at risk. In Massachusetts this includes shipyards, manufacturing plants, metal refineries and foundries, power plants, and chemical companies.

Older buildings are also potential sources of asbestos exposure. Before federal regulations of the 1970s, most buildings were constructed with asbestos in everything from insulation to flooring. Now, those older buildings can pose risks if the asbestos materials get damaged or simply deteriorate with time, exposing the fibers. Massachusetts also has some natural sources of asbestos and a couple of old asbestos mines that are no longer in use.

Boston Naval Shipyard and Maritime Exposure

Shipping and shipbuilding, as well as the U.S. Navy, have all been important industries in Massachusetts for hundreds of years. The long history of maritime jobs in the state has also been a major source of asbestos exposure for workers. For many decades, but most heavily around the time of World War II, asbestos was used in nearly every component of ships. Asbestos was used for a few reasons: it is lightweight, but adds strength to materials and it resist heat and fire so it can be used to prevent fires from spreading on a ship. Because of this extensive use of asbestos in shipbuilding, anyone who worked around or on ships was likely exposed at some point on the job.

Boston’s Naval Shipyard is just one of many maritime facilities in the state documented to have used asbestos and exposed workers. The shipyard built ships from the early 1800s through the 1970s and especially produced many of the ships used in World War II. Between 1930 and 1973 the U.S. Navy used asbestos in hundreds of the components that went into these ships.

Massachusetts’s Superfund Site

Some of the industrial sites that used asbestos in the past were abandoned and never cleaned up, and some of them become Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites. One of these is the Blackburn and Union Privileges site in Walpole. The site includes 22 acres of land and water that are contaminated by a number of toxins, including asbestos.

Two companies operated at the site in the past, including W.R. Grace, a company that made asbestos clutch and brake linings on the land. The two companies had agreed in 2010 to clean up the site and to spend millions doing it and were ordered to pay the state damages for contaminating the area. People living in and around the site in Walpole were put at risk for decades of being exposed to asbestos and other contaminants.

Other Sites with Asbestos

Many workplaces in Massachusetts are now known to have had asbestos on site, and in many cases to have put workers at risk of being exposed and becoming sick later. These include many sites in the maritime industry, but also other types of industrial workplaces. Some of these include:

  • Charlestown Naval Yard, Charlestown
  • Fairhaven Shipyard, Fairhaven
  • Fore River Shipyard, Quincy
  • Marlboro Electric Company, Marlboro
  • Norton Grinding Company, Worcester
  • Monsanto Plant, Springfield
  • Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, Quincy
  • Sevens Paper Mill, Andover
  • Mead Paper Mill, Lee
  • New England Power Company, Salem

Massachusetts Asbestos Laws

Asbestos laws in the state are administered by the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Department of Labor. The state requires that the contractor on any construction, renovation, or demolition project that involves asbestos notify the state before beginning the job. The contractor must also pay the state a $100 fee before an asbestos project, which is non-refundable, even if the job is cancelled. Cities must also be notified before these projects begin. There are also strict rules about who can do these jobs and how the removed asbestos is stored, encapsulated, and sent for disposal.

Medical Care in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is home to two facilities that are designated as comprehensive care centers by the National Cancer Institute: Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston. The designation assures you that these facilities are staffed by experts in cancer care, including mesothelioma, and have the latest technologies used to treat cancer. It is important to get good care if you have been exposed to asbestos and these are two excellent options.

Statute of Limitations

People who were harmed by asbestos exposure have a right to file a lawsuit to seek recovery of damages. However, there are statutes of limitations. In Massachusetts you have just two years from the time of an asbestos-related diagnosis to make a case and two years from the time of death of a loved one to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you do become sick or lose someone to mesothelioma, it is important to act quickly to avoid missing out.

Find a Massachusetts Mesothelioma Lawyer

Because of the limits and other complications associated with seeking damages from a responsible party, it is important to find and work with a Massachusetts mesothelioma lawyer if you get sick because of asbestos. There is often a negligent party, such as an employer and you have a right to make your case and seek justice. An experienced lawyer has the knowledge you need to ensure you can make this case well and present all the necessary in formation in the right way. Working with a lawyer is the best way to ensure you have the best possible chance to win.

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