South Carolina has a population of 4.96 million people and is ranked as the 41st state for quality of life. Known for its beautiful coastline and Southern plantations, South Carolina has always been an economic hub thanks to its booming manufacturing industry and naval base. Unfortunately, these sectors infamously used asbestos, which is now resulting in high rates of illness among state residents.
Mesothelioma Cases in South Carolina
South Carolina is ranked as the 21st state in the US for asbestos-related deaths. Between 1999-2013, 505 residents died of mesothelioma.
The primary reason for South Carolina’s asbestos problems begins with the vermiculite industry. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is commercially used for insulation, fireproofing and packing.
Today, vermiculite mines are tested to ensure they do not also contain asbestos, but in the 1900s the mines were rife with asbestos fibers. The naturally occurring deposits in South Carolina were a significant industry for the state, but in addition to this, the shipyards also received vast amounts for vermiculite from nearby Libby, Montana, where an infamous vermiculite/asbestos mine was situated.
Asbestos Use in South Carolina
Charleston and Columbia were the areas most affected by asbestos, though hundreds of businesses all over the state would have used the substance within their buildings at some point. Until the 1970s, nobody understood how harmful the material could be. As mesothelioma can take 10-50 years to develop, countless citizens were working within close quarters of asbestos for the majority of their working lives.
The vermiculite mine was the most common way people in South Carolina were exposed to asbestos. Even if they didn’t work in the mine or come into close contact with the contents, the residents were still in danger.
Small asbestos fibers clung to workers’ clothing and were often deposited within their home, in local shops or carried in the air. This means that lots of miners’ wives, children and friends would have been unknowingly exposed to the dangerous fibers and would also be at risk of developing mesothelioma later in life.
South Carolina was also a textile-making hub, and one of these products was asbestos textiles. Many workers in Charleston suffered from high rates of pleural plaques and lung cancers as a result of many years working in close contact with asbestos fibers.
The shipyards were another popular workplace to come under fire for their use of asbestos. The toxic material was frequently used to build ships, and those building the vessels and member of the navy on the ships themselves would have been exposed to a significant amount of dangerous fibers.
South Carolina Asbestos Laws and Regulations
At the start of the industrial revolution, asbestos laws didn’t exist. When heavy machinery and large-scale businesses arrived in South Carolina, asbestos was used to ‘protect’ workers and equipment from fires. As a natural insulator it worked well for this, but years later scientists discovered the harmful effect it was having on the lungs.
Today, laws in South Carolina forbid the use of asbestos and enforce restrictions on removing and handling any of the remaining material. The Department of Health and Environmental Control is responsible for asbestos in the state and are working to remove all asbestos deposits safely and responsibly.
The Department is continuously working to remove all asbestos in the state through several programs. To avoid further injuries, the team moving the asbestos must provide a written design for each renovation and evaluation of fiber release control to ensure nobody gets exposed to the toxic material.
Those removing the asbestos must also have completed an asbestos training course and hold a department-issued license.
Retaining a South Carolina Mesothelioma Lawyer
Mesothelioma is a form of rare cancer, so it requires a specialized lawyer to understand the case. Millions of dollars have been achieved in lawsuit settlements in South Carolina alone, but there’s no time to waste if you’re thinking about putting in a claim.
From the date of diagnosis, you have 3 years to file a personal injury lawsuit, but the sooner the proceedings happen, the better. If you have lost a loved one due to asbestos exposure, family members can also file a wrongful death lawsuit 3 years from the date of death.
If you were exposed to asbestos in South Carolina, contact our Justice Support Team today.