Washington is well-known for being home to a variety of companies such as technology superpowers, start-ups, aerospace firms and a coffee chain empire. However, the state is also home to several prominent industries such as shipbuilding, oil, gas, paper and lumber mills. Due to the frequent and common use of asbestos in such manufacturing industries, many employees and their families may have been exposed to the toxin in the past few decades. Now, they may be at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Mesothelioma Cases in Washington
Washington state ranks at #9 in all of the U.S. for deaths related to asbestos. Between the years 1999 and 2013, more than 1,500 Washington residents died from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related cancers.
Washington has a mesothelioma death rate of 12.2 per million people, which is significantly higher than the national average. Kitsap and Mason Counties have the highest mesothelioma death rates in the state, alongside Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille.
For the majority of these deaths, occupational asbestos exposure was the culprit. However, there are several sites of naturally occurring asbestos that are being monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent further exposure and future deaths.
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Asbestos Use in Washington
Between the mining and maritime industries, the residents and visitors of Washington were slightly more at risk of exposure to asbestos. The beautiful, iconic Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges in Washington are rich in serpentine rock, which is the most prominent source of commercial asbestos. There are 5 large asbestos mines in northern Washington, with several serpentine deposits around Ellensburg.
Asbestos Industries in Washington
Aside from the naturally occurring asbestos, the Northwest Pacific Coast has ports all around the state with a track record of exposing shipyard workers to the toxin. The timber industry has also been an important part of Washington’s economic build-up. Many asbestos-containing materials were discovered in the paper and pulp mills around the state—used in the machinery and the paper-constructing process.
Oil is another important industry within Washington state, and while it’s already a hazardous material to work with, asbestos was employed in most protective building components. It was also used in protective gear such as coats and gloves. BP Oil, Chevron and Shell are all companies that contributed to harmful asbestos exposure of their own employees.
There have also been several asbestos lawsuits filed in Washington by former aluminum plant workers, as the production of aluminum has been an integral part of Washington since the 1940s, with roots all the way back to nearly 2 centuries ago.
Due to its incredible heat resistant qualities, asbestos was used in aluminum factories with the aim of protecting workers and equipment from fire damage, but instead making them vulnerable to the possibility of mesothelioma with dangerous amounts of asbestos exposure.
Lastly, and perhaps surprisingly, there have been cases of asbestos in old school buildings. Washington Elementary School in Berkeley was a key contributor to asbestos exposure in 2010. Several teachers and students who attended classes in a particular classroom may have inhaled fibers through exposed flooring tiles. Since then, Washington Occupational Safety and Health Administration closed the classroom for asbestos abatement.
Washington Asbestos Laws and Regulations
The Air Program at the Washington Department of Ecology is responsible for public protection from asbestos exposure. Before any asbestos renovation or demolition project can be conducted in the state, the local air authority must be contacted for legal and regulatory information. Regulations in Washington require that an asbestos hazard survey be conducted by a certified and licensed Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act inspector.
An individual must complete a 4-5 day course in order to become a licensed asbestos professional in Washington. Asbestos supervisors are required to have prior experience working with the toxin before applying for a supervisor license.
Asbestos contractors that work on asbestos removals within the state must be registered as a contractor with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.
Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Claims
Washington residents with mesothelioma diagnoses must be aware of the time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit in their state. If a patient passes away from mesothelioma before they can file their claim, their direct family members can file a wrongful death claim instead.
The statute of limitations in Washington State for mesothelioma claims is 3 years after a diagnosis. For family members in Washington State, there is a 3-year statute of limitations in wrongful death lawsuits.
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Retaining a Washington Mesothelioma Lawyer
Mesothelioma patients should seek an experienced and specialized mesothelioma attorney to help them understand their legal options. A mesothelioma law firm has the experience and resources required to build an extensive case to help support your mesothelioma claim.
If you live in Washington state and you’ve developed mesothelioma as a result of workplace asbestos exposure, please do not hesitate to contact out Justice Support Team today.