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The overall number of deaths in New Hampshire that can be blamed on asbestos exposure is low compared to other states, but the Granite State has a lower population than most others. Between 1999 and 2013, more than 1,200 people died from mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer related to asbestos exposure in this small state.
Although it is a small state, with a lot of rural areas, New Hampshire has a long history of industrial workplaces, which are the main reason workers there have been exposed to asbestos. The textile industry, power plants, shipyards, and construction industries, among others, used asbestos and have put workers at risk of getting sick. Victims of asbestos exposure can rely on a New Hampshire mesothelioma lawyer to help them get justice.
Asbestos in New Hampshire
Unlike its neighbors, Vermont and Maine, New Hampshire has no known natural deposits of asbestos. The state, however, used this mineral in many industries and in the construction of buildings, especially those built before the 1970s when federal regulations restricted it. Older buildings still pose a risk in the Granite State. If asbestos in these homes and public buildings is damaged it can release harmful airborne fibers. The biggest cause of asbestos exposure has been on the job. The major industries contributing to exposure in New Hampshire were textile mills, shipyards, and power plants.
The Textile Industry
New Hampshire has a long history of textile mills, factories that weave and produce cloth and textiles. Like many other industrial workplaces these mills used asbestos in the buildings and machinery as insulation and for other purposes. Additionally, mill workers often worked directly with asbestos, spinning it into materials to make fireproof and fire-protective textiles for safety gear. Textile mills, especially in the past, were not well ventilated, so when workers handled asbestos, the fibers in the air circulated and remained where they could be inhaled.
While the textile industry in the state is not what it once was, those who worked there years ago are now paying the price with illnesses like mesothelioma. The legacy of the mills also continues with the contamination they left behind. Many mills were simply abandoned, leaving asbestos and other toxic chemicals in the surrounding air, soil, and water. Some mills even dumped waste that contained asbestos in nearby waterways. Older textile mills are sometimes refurbished to be used as homes or shops, but without a professional cleanup, this puts people at risk of more asbestos exposure.
Shipyards and Naval Yards
New Hampshire has a short Atlantic coast, so it also has shipyards and ports. Ships and boats often contained a lot of asbestos because the material is lightweight, strong, and fireproof. Beginning around World War II and until federal bans in the 1970s, asbestos was used in the construction of nearly every part of ships.
An important maritime site of asbestos exposure for New Hampshire is actually in Maine: the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Just across the border from New Hampshire, the facility employed many workers from the Granite State. These workers built, maintained, and repaired U.S. Navy ships and many were exposed to asbestos in the process. Cleanup of the many contaminated buildings in the shipyard began in the 1990s and concluded in 2003.
Another important site of asbestos contamination and exposure in New Hampshire is the John Manville Corporation site in Nashua. The company produced construction materials, like insulation and roofing that contained asbestos. Operations with asbestos went on for 100 years at the Nashua facility. Workers here were exposed to asbestos, but so were nearby residents. The company gave away waste material to residents to be used as fill. Many nearby areas are now known to be contaminated with asbestos in the soil, including residential areas, commercial areas, and even public lands.
The Johns Manville Nashua facility closed down in 1985 and the buildings remained vacant for a decade. Trespassers on the site were at risk of being exposed to asbestos and by 1995 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had declared it a condemned site and ordered that it be demolished. The entire area continues to pose a threat to those living nearby.
Other Sites of Asbestos Exposure in New Hampshire
In addition to these major areas of asbestos exposure in the Granite State, there are many other sites in New Hampshire proven to have asbestos and to have put residents and workers at risk of exposure and illness:
- Nashua Sanitary Landfill, Nashua
- Schiller Station Power Plant, Portsmouth
- Brown Paper Mill, Berlin
- General Electric, Somersworth
- Star Specialty Knitting, Laconia
- Merrimack Power Plant, Bow
- Spaulding Fiber Company, North Rochester
- Grenier Air Force Base, Manchester
- Harcros Chemical, Inc., Merrimack
- Brezner Canning Corporation, Penacook
New Hampshire Asbestos Laws
In New Hampshire, the state Department of Environmental Services is responsible for regulations regarding asbestos and for administering the federal laws that govern asbestos limits and abatement. Asbestos abatement projects in the state cannot begin until the department has received written notification. Asbestos that is being disposed of must be carefully handled, transported and stored. Asbestos in schools is managed according to federal EPA regulations as well as state laws.
Statute of Limitations
Many New Hampshirites who were exposed to asbestos and who became sick as a result have taken the time to file a lawsuit to seek justice and compensation. If you find yourself in a similar situation, know that there is a time limit on this kind of legal action. In New Hampshire, you have just three years from the time of the diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness to begin a lawsuit. For wrongful death lawsuits, in the case of losing a loved one to an asbestos illness, you have three years from their death.
Working with a New Hampshire Mesothelioma Lawyer
Because of the statute of limitations and because beginning legal action against an employer or corporation can be challenging and complicated, it is important to rely on the advice and guidance of a New Hampshire mesothelioma lawyer. You will need the expertise and the experience of this professional, or a legal team, to help you take all the necessary steps for filing this kind of lawsuit, from the first filing to arguing your case in a settlement agreement or a trial.
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Rod De Llano was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics, and earned a law degree from the University of Texas. After working for an international law firm for several years, Rod formed a law firm dedicated to representing persons injured by exposure to asbestos products. For over 20 years, Rod has fought for persons diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. His clients have recovered over $1 billion over the years.