Japan Faces Post-Tsunami Asbestos Fallout

Following the catastrophic 2011 tsunami, a dozen Japanese debris sites have tested positive for asbestos levels, and exceed the World Health Organization’s safety limit.

Asbestos-containing materials such as sheeting, fireproofing, insulation and other materials from disintegrating structures wound up as toxic mounds. Many people worked without protection to clean up the devastation, says this recent report by the Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC). “While many fear the invisible fallout from Fukushima, it may be another poisonous substance closer to home that could prove even deadlier for some,” notes an Australian reporter.

Japan, like the United States, used asbestos extensively in the post-World War II era. Also, as in America, most people in Japan were unaware that inhaling or swallowing microscopic asbestos fibers was dangerous. Exposure to asbestos, even for short time periods, can lead to a range of serious illnesses, including mesothelioma cancer.

According to one asbestos researcher who commented in the ABC piece, one Japanese city is planning to destroy 4,000 tsunami-damaged buildings in the coming months. “They don’t have enough local workers, so people who’ve never worked in the construction industry are being drafted in and they don’t have any knowledge of asbestos,” says the researcher.

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, according to the National Cancer Institute. Latency periods can be as long as 40 years between exposure to asbestos and the onset of mesothelioma symptoms. A complete ban on asbestos in Japan was not enacted until 2005, so even newer buildings contain the material.

If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, you may be eligible for a mesothelioma lawsuit. Call Sokolove Law today for a free legal consultation.