Pennsylvania is deeply rooted in American history. Home of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies and played a key role in the formation of the United States. In the centuries to come, its steel, shipbuilding, mining and other industries flourished—all relying on asbestos for production. But the economic success came with a heavy price, as asbestos exposure poisoned thousands of workers and their families.
Mesothelioma Cases in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania ranks third in the United States for asbestos-related deaths with 7.5 per 100,000 people. From 1999 to 2013, the state saw over 14,000 citizens killed as a result of asbestos exposure, with the highest numbers in Philadelphia and along the coast, and inland at Pittsburgh and surrounding counties. Due to the long latency period for mesothelioma, the statistics are not likely to decrease anytime soon.
Over the past few decades, Philadelphia courts have seen a massive influx of mesothelioma claims. At one point, the state was hearing half of all U.S. claims, and there is now a backlog. Lobbying by big corporations to add legal hurdles for mesothelioma victims may create longer delays in the court system.
Still, victims and their families have been awarded millions of dollars in damages across Pennsylvania, and trust funds are ready to pay out future claims. For example, building material manufacturer Pittsburgh Corning established a $3 billion trust for victims who were exposed by its products.
Asbestos Use in Pennsylvania
Asbestos was used in many industries in Pennsylvania during the 1900s. Heat-resistant and anti-corrosive, asbestos was used in buildings and ships, as insulation for pipes and machinery, in automobile parts and in workers’ protective gear.
Several asbestos mines also operated in Pennsylvania during the 20th century.
Southeastern Pennsylvania has been one of the most prominent shipbuilding regions in America, with Philadelphia and surrounding areas producing and repairing hundreds of commercial and military vessels in its history. During the 1900s, shipbuilders used asbestos to insulate walls, floors, ceilings and pipes, and to fireproof equipment in the boiler room and around the ship.
Asbestos has been confirmed at many shipyards around Pennsylvania, including Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock, and Penn Shipbuilding. Veterans and civilians who worked at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard were also at risk of asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma.
Pennsylvania steel production made America a global leader in the industry during the 20th century. As steelwork requires high temperatures, most mills used asbestos in equipment like ovens, furnaces, pipes and tanks. Workers protected themselves from the extreme heat by wearing gloves and protective gear made of the fireproof asbestos. If their uniform ripped during work, employees were at risk of inhaling the airborne fibers.
Due to the large number of employees who worked directly with asbestos in Pennsylvania, the incidence of second-hand exposure is comparatively high. Spouses who laundered their husbands’ work clothes or children who snuggled with their dad after a day’s work may have inhaled or ingested the asbestos fibers.
Other high-risk occupations for asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma in Pennsylvania include:
- Plumbers and pipefitters
- Power station technicians
- Factory workers
- Construction/demolition crews
- First responders
Pennsylvania employees who worked indirectly with asbestos or who spent time in a building constructed with asbestos may also be at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Employees who worked in any capacity at the following job sites in Pennsylvania may have been exposed:
- Iron productions
- Asbestos mines and processing centers
- Power plants
- Chemical plants
- Military bases
Pennsylvania Asbestos Laws and Regulations
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection oversees asbestos regulations in four main areas:
- Abatement: Regulating asbestos removal from public and commercial buildings
- Collection: Certifying contractors who handle asbestos
- Transportation: Ensuring proper transportation of asbestos to a disposal facility
- Disposal: Establishing protocols for asbestos waste
Pennsylvania residents must be aware of the statute of limitations on filing claims for wrongful asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma patients have two years from the date of diagnosis. If filing a wrongful death claim, direct family members have two years from the date of death.
Retaining a Pennsylvania Mesothelioma Lawyer
Filing a wrongful asbestos exposure lawsuit is especially complex in Pennsylvania. An accredited attorney has the skills and knowledge to navigate the state’s legal system and build a strong case—negotiating the settlement you deserve as quickly as possible.
If you developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure in Pennsylvania, contact our Justice Support Team today.