Teenagers Put at Risk of Mesothelioma Through Asbestos Exposure
Teenagers hoping to gain valuable job skills and work experience, from a now-defunct California job-training center, were knowingly exposed to asbestos without benefit of proper protective gear during a construction project, according to a story in the MercuryNews.com. Exposure to airborne asbestos fibers has been proven to cause mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
The exposure occurred in 2005 and 2006 when the former non-profit company Firm Build sent teens to remove asbestos from an old building. The teenagers were given cotton face masks, but the gear was not appropriate for handling the hazardous substance.
The majority of building products manufactured today do not contain asbestos, however those frequently used prior to 1970 do carry exposure risks.
Often called “asbestos cancer,” mesothelioma is highly aggressive and is resistant to many standard cancer treatments. Even small amounts of asbestos and infrequent exposure can create a risk for contracting mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Currently there is no known cure for mesothelioma, and the average survival time varies from 4 – 18 months after diagnosis.
Records show that three executives of the firm were aware of the asbestos problem in the building, but that they lied to officials about the renovation work. The three face charges of child endangerment and knowingly exposing someone to harmful materials. Five teenagers have been confirmed as victims, but as many as 80 may have been affected.
Most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed 30 years or more after exposure, with the latency period sometimes being as long as 50 years. It could be many years before any of the exposed workers will know if they have become ill from the asbestos. To date, no one has reported any health problems from the asbestos.