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Asbestos in California: Unveiling the Threat That Is Raising Legal Concerns

Reviewed by: Jerry Kristal
June 13, 2024
Home Firm News Asbestos in California: Unveiling the Threat That Is Raising Legal Concerns

Living in California puts you at risk of asbestos exposure. A large percentage of the people who die of mesothelioma live in in California.

How Many Californians Die of Mesothelioma Each Year?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4,532 Californians died from malignant mesothelioma between 1999 and 2016. This makes up slightly more than 10% of the 45,000 total number of mesothelioma deaths in the country during this time period. (1)

Is Asbestos Banned in California?

Although, you still may find asbestos in many buildings and old products, virtually all new products containing and uses involving asbestos have finally been banned in the U.S. by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as of March 2024. Manufacturers, in an extremely limited number of industrial processes, may continue to use asbestos until the timeframe for phasing asbestos out completely ends. (2)

If you or a loved one have suffered an asbestos disease from past exposure to asbestos, take action with Weitz & Luxenberg. Our experienced team is here to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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What Do Friable and Non-Friable Mean and Why Is That Important?

Both words are technical terms that refer to types of asbestos-containing materials. Friable asbestos material refers to “any material containing more than 1 percent asbestos, that, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.” Importantly, asbestos-containing materials that are non-friable can become friable when disturbed “by fires, demolition and other renovation activities” (3) or any other manipulation such as cutting, scoring, drilling, sanding, or grinding.

Technically non-friable materials containing asbestos — including some types of gaskets; floor coverings, cement wall and roof shingles; and cement pipe products — may easily still emit dangerous fibers when manipulated. (4)

Friable materials containing asbestos include “thermal system insulation, surfacing material, sheet-vinyl flooring with paper-like backing, and cement asbestos products.” (5)

Is Asbestos-Containing Material Regulated?

Absolutely. In California, “building remodeling and demolition projects produce much of the asbestos waste we see today.” The Department of Toxic Substances Control “regulates the packaging, onsite accumulation, transportation, and disposal of asbestos when it is a hazardous waste,” as defined by California regulations. (6)

Friable asbestos products generally “contain high levels of asbestos (up to 100% in some cases), which is loosely held in the product and asbestos fibres can be easily released into the air.” When friable asbestos products are disturbed, they “are dangerous because the asbestos fibres can get into the air very easily, and may be inhaled.” (7)

How Does Non-Friable Asbestos Become Dangerous?

When damaged, technically non-friable asbestos products become dangerous because they become friable and release dangerous asbestos fibers. (8) For example, “severely damaged asbestos cement shingles or transite shingles that are pulverized or abraded pose a more serious health risk because of the potential for significant fiber releases.” (9) The release of dangerous asbestos fibers may be hard to see with the naked eye because individual asbestos fibers are microscopic.

Also, weathering of severely damaged nonfriable products… can “deposit asbestos fibers … later to be re-entrained into the air at the breathing level of the person operating lawn mowing equipment or playing in the yard.” (10)

Who Faces the Risk of Exposure to Asbestos in California?

Historically, the people at great risk for asbestos exposure were those involved in the use and application of asbestos products on the job. (11)

Today, you are most at risk for asbestos exposure if you are involved in these activities: (12)

  • Repair structures containing asbestos materials.
  • Renovate structures that contain asbestos.
  • Remove or otherwise demolish structures that contain asbestos.
  • Maintain structures that contain asbestos.

Which Workers Are Most at Risk for Asbestos Exposure in California?

People who work in certain trades are at greatest risk of being exposed to asbestos. These include: (13)

  • Carpenters.
  • Roofers.
  • Utility workers.
  • Electricians.
  • Pipefitters.
  • Steel mill workers.
  • Sheet metal workers.
  • Boilermakers.
  • Laborers.

These workers are most likely to come into contact with asbestos materials in a wide variety of products including “construction materials, insulation coverings of pipes, boilers, [and] industrial furnaces.” Mechanics who work with brake and transmission products also face a greater risk of asbestos exposure. (14)

If you worked in one of these trades and have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease, you may be eligible for compensation. Don’t go on the journey alone. Contact our compassionate lawyers to get the support you need.

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In My Daily Life, Am I at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?

Yes, particularly if you are attempting home repair or remodeling work yourself. The risk of asbestos disease comes from breathing in asbestos fibers. (15)

You may also be exposed to asbestos by handling clothing that is covered in asbestos dust. Your spouses may bring it home on clothes from their workplaces. (16)

You may also be exposed to asbestos if workers in your neighborhood have been making repairs and stirring up dust. Crushed asbestos-containing rock had been used in the past in road construction. Also, asbestos dust may be released from automobile brake linings. (17)

In addition, custodial workers may be exposed to asbestos dust that has collected on floors Or if the flooring contains asbestos and is disturbed, or abraded or sanded. (18)

What Products Contain Asbestos?

Many products made before the late 1970s may contain asbestos. For example: (19)

  • Roofing and siding shingles made of asbestos cement.
  • Insulation in houses built between 1930 and 1950.
  • Textured paint and joint and patching compounds.
  • Older stovetop pads.
  • Paper, millboard, and cement sheets used in walls and floors surrounding woodburning stoves.
  • Vinyl floor tiles and backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
  • Coatings used over hot water and steam pipes in older houses.
  • Insulation for oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets.
  • Gaskets.
  • Brake lining and clutches.
  • Talc products such as baby powder.

How Do I Know If I Have Mesothelioma?

You can have mesothelioma long before you have any symptoms. By the time you notice symptoms, your mesothelioma may be advanced. (20)

Symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on where the tumor is located. Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include: (21)

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Pain in the side of your chest or lower back.
  • Dry and persistent cough.
  • Problems swallowing or feeling like you have something stuck in your throat.
  • Swelling in your face and arms.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

If you have mesothelioma in your abdominal lining, your symptoms may include: (22)

  • Swelling and pain of the abdomen.
  • Constipation.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting and blockage of your small intestine.

Other more general symptoms of mesothelioma include: (23)

  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Weight loss due to a loss of appetite.

Where Can I Turn for Help?

Weitz & Luxenberg. For almost four decades, our attorneys have dedicated themselves to helping people who have been harmed by the negligent actions of corporations. In fact, we originally founded our firm to help the many people who had developed mesothelioma and other illnesses due to asbestos exposure.

We have gone after the biggest offenders out there. The ones who manufactured or exposed you to asbestos — but failed to warn you about the risks caused by using their products.

These companies may file for bankruptcy or hide behind mergers, hoping they never get caught. But we keep comprehensive records. We know who they are and where they hide.

Not only do we pursue the biggest offenders out there, but also the mid-size and smaller companies in the asbestos product supply chain.

Nothing will stop us from getting justice for our clients. We have secured billions of dollars on their behalf. We’re here to fight for you.

Fill out our form. Or call us at (833) 977-3437, so we can try and help you, too.

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