Iowa (IA) Asbestos Information:
Iowa’s primary industry is agriculture; as a result, the rate of asbestos-related mortality in this state has been somewhat lower than other areas of the nation. Since 1979, 460 Iowans (out of a population of approximately 2.9 million) have lost their lives to asbestos diseases. The overwhelming majority of these were from mesothelioma, which accounted for roughly 80% of these fatalities.
Where the Asbestos Is
For the most part, it was at the state’s power plants where workers were exposed to asbestos. This is not surprising in light of a Puerto Rican study performed recently, where 13% of power plant workers showed some degree of asbestos-related scarring of the lungs when chest x-rays were examined.
Asbestos is primarily used as a fire retardant and heat shield. In facilities that have steam generators, asbestos packing is found in pipe fittings, while asbestos insulation is frequently used around pipes themselves as well as fire doors. While there have been efforts in the U.S. and abroad to reduce and abate asbestos products in such plants, malignant mesothelioma rates have been climbing in many areas.
The Iowa power plants are located primarily in and around the cities of Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Iowa City, Mason City, Sioux City and Waterloo, and include Alliant Power Stack, Duane Arnold Alliant Energy, Iowa Light & Power, Iowa Power and Light, Sioux City Coal and Gas, Storm Lake Power Plant and the Tipton Power Plant.
In addition, two chemical manufacturers – Irwin Chemical Company and USI – appear on the list of Iowa exposure sites. In addition to heat and fire resistance, certain types of asbestos – predominantly crocidolite – has been used in many applications where caustic, corrosive substances pose a hazard.
Crocidolite, or “blue” asbestos, is an amphibole, which is particularly deadly. Although asbestosis and forms of asbestos cancer such as mesothelioma can result from exposure to either amphibole or the softer chrysotile asbestos (sometimes touted by the powerful Canadian asbestos lobby as “safe” asbestos), the former tends to be faster-acting in causing the kind of cellular mutations that result in the development of cancer, according to medical research.
Agricultural Exposure to Asbestos
While asbestos is not usually a danger in farming and ranching industries, there are exceptions, particularly when it comes to buildings in which farm machinery is stored as well as the shops in which such machinery is serviced. Asbestos-containing material is found in gaskets and brake material, as well as the buildings themselves; this has been a problem in several small farming communities in eastern Colorado.
Another agricultural source of asbestos exposure is often from naturally-occurring deposits that are uncovered in the process of plowing and digging activities; however, this is more of a problem in the Southeast and California. Iowa, being primarily geologically inactive flatlands, has no natural asbestos deposits.
Polk County, where the state capital and county seat of Des Moines is located, had the largest number of asbestos-related deaths in the 20-year period prior to the 2000 census, mainly due to one of three forms mesothelioma, the most common of which is pleural mesothelioma. In that same period, the general population of the Des Moines area increased by around 22%.
The lowest exposure rates were found in rural counties such as Sioux, Washington, Calhoun, Crawford, Grundy, Monroe and Winneshiek. In each of these counties, only a single victim was recorded during that time.
It should be noted that while these statistics account for deaths inside the state of Iowa, it does not take into account where the asbestos exposure took place or the specific occupations of the victims.
Iowa (IA) Mesothelioma Lawyer & Legal Resources:
People in Iowa with an interest in filing a Iowa mesothelioma lawsuit or hiring a Iowa mesothelioma lawyer should know that the statute of limitations for personal injury law in Iowa is two years with a discovery rule stating that this amount of time begins when the problem (in this case the mesothelioma) either was discovered or should have been discovered. Wrongful death cases fall under the same statute of limitations and follow the same discovery rule. However, Iowa’s Supreme Court has adopted a “separate injury rule” that allows a plaintiff to file an Iowa mesothelioms lawsuit for asbestos cancer regardless of whether the victim had developed asbestosis at a much earlier date.
Under this rule, the discovery of asbestosis does not trigger the statute of limitations on asbestos-related diseases that develop later, including cancers such as mesothelioma, allowing victims of such cancers to hire an Iowa mesothelioma lawyer and pursue compensation for their disease. This means that mesothelioma victims in Iowa who have discovered the disease after having first developed asbestosis can file an Iowa mesothelioma lawsuit within the statute of limitations related to the discovery date of the cancer.
With 21 mesothelioma-related deaths in 1999, Iowa ranks 33 in the nation for mesothelioma cases. So while this issue is one of concern in the state, it is not pressing in comparison to a majority of states in the nation. Perhaps for this reason, there is not a significant number of high-profile mesothelioma or asbestos-related cases in the state. Oftentimes, when the issue arises, it results in mesothelioma settlement. For example, in 2004, Sioux City was awarded a $7,500 settlement from Wisconsin-based Old Republic Surety Company for rubble containing asbestos that resulted from the demolition of part of the Livestock Exchange Building. A clean-up plan was put in place and there are no known cases (as of yet) of asbestos-related disease caused by the construction-based asbestos exposure.
Although there has not been significant legislation on the issue, the state of Iowa does note concerns as in the above case. Another example of this is the early 2007 Iowa OSHA notice that worker safety is still compromised by exposure to asbestos, warning of asbestos’s lingering presence in the automotive industry. More specifically, there is current concern in the state about asbestos-related disease in those employees who work on the brakes of older cars. The worker safety alert specifically addresses workplace safety and health issues and holds no jurisdiction over anyone working on older model vehicles during their leisure time, but health risks should be of concern to these amateur mechanics as well.
In another 2007 issue, students at one Iowa elementary school had their classes relocated as officials discovered that the glue on asbestos-containing ceiling tiles was failing, causing tiles to fall. Again, this points to the fact that despite lack of Iowa mesothelioma lawsuits, there are reasons for continued concern by Iowa’s citizens. In fact, four mesothelioma victims and their Iowa mesothelioma lawyers have come together in 2007 in a lawsuit against a Des Moines company that manufactures putty used for wood and plaster repairs, model building and sculpting. This is only the second asbestos-related lawsuit for the company, which has made putty since 1932. In 2005 the first case was dismissed when tests conducted on behalf of the plaintiff failed to find asbestos.