Iowa is nestled in the Midwest, surrounded by 6 other states and 2 major rivers. Recognized primarily for its cornfields and agriculture, Iowa also boats strong manufacturing, energy and chemical sectors. However, some companies in these industries put workers at risk by exposing them to asbestos—even after they knew about its hazards.
Mesothelioma Cases in Iowa
From 1999 to 2013, Iowa faced over 2,090 asbestos-related deaths. These cases arise throughout the state.
However, the death rates in 4 particular counties measure high above the national average of 4.9 per 100,000 people:
- Cerro Gordo County — 9.6
- Clinton County — 9.3
- Des Moines County — 7.8
- Linn County — 7.8
New laws for asbestos litigation may make it more difficult for mesothelioma victims to file lawsuits against their former employers and access trust funds established by big companies. Senate File 376, which has now been approved by Iowa’s governor, restricts the damages a plaintiff can claim and increases burden by requiring more paperwork and background information. Still, there are numberous asbestos trust funds that continue to compensate former employees.
Did you know the National Gypsum Company, which exposed workers to asbestos at its drywall plant in Fort Dodge, created a $4 billion trust in 2004 to fund future claims and remains active today.
Asbestos Use in Iowa
During the 20th century, Iowa relied on several industries to carry its economy, including agriculture, manufacturing and chemical processing. Companies in these sectors and others used asbestos for its anti-corrosive and heat-resistant qualities. It made for an ideal material for construction products, to fireproof equipment and in workers’ protective clothing.
Chemical plants were among the most notorious workplaces for asbestos exposure. Given the high-risk nature of chemicals, asbestos was used to line machinery, boilers, valves and tanks. Sadly, asbestos was also used in employees’ clothing, gloves and masks for protection from the high temperatures.
Many chemical plants exposed workers and their families to asbestos during the 1990s, such as E.I. Dupont de Nemours Co., which was also named a Superfund site for contaminating nearby soil and water.
Iowans use a lot of power, ranking #5 in the United States for energy consumption per capita. As energy demand rose in the 1900s, more power stations were built across the state. Several plants used asbestos in machinery, pipes, boilers and the structures themselves, putting all employees who worked in the plants at risk.
Iowa power plants that used asbestos included:
- Iowa Power and Light
- Duane Arnold Power
- Sioux City Coal and Gas
Manufacturing was an important industry in Iowa in the 20th century and remains so today. Many products contained asbestos, like the drywall manufactured at National Gypsum and farming equipment produced at John Deere. Assembly lines and manufacturing equipment used asbestos in its parts, and the plants themselves often contained asbestos in the insulation, pipes, flooring and ceiling.
In Iowa, there are other high-risk occupations for workplace asbestos exposure, including:
- Military veterans
- Pipefitters and plumbers
- First responders
- Construction/demolition crews
- Boiler room workers
If Iowa employees worked indirectly with asbestos in the workplace by working in a building constructed with asbestos, they could also be at risk of developing mesothelioma.
High-risk work sites for asbestos exposure in Iowa can include:
- Food processing centers
- Freight yards
- Military bases
- Old buildings that underwent major renovation
Iowa Asbestos Laws and Regulations
Iowa’s Division of Labor (DOL) oversees asbestos training, licensing and abatement permits. Not only must workers be trained to handle asbestos, but they are also required to undergo a medical examination and be “fit tested” for a respirator before working with asbestos.
The DOL works in tandem with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure renovations and demolitions happen safely. Building owners and contractors must inform the department of demolitions and significant renovations.
Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Claims
Iowa residents must be aware of the statute of limitations regulated on filing asbestos claims. Mesothelioma patients in Iowa have 2 years from the date of diagnosis to file a claim for legal compensation. If you are a direct family member filing a wrongful death claim in Iowa, you have 2 years from the date of death of your loved one.
Retaining an Iowa Mesothelioma Lawyer
Asbestos litigation is a complicated field, and new legal rules require even more background information from plaintiffs. An expert mesothelioma lawyer has the resources and experience needed to build a solid claim that earns you the compensation you deserve.
If you worked in an Iowa workplace that contained asbestos and you have since developed mesothelioma, contact our Justice Support Team today.