The impact of decades of asbestos exposure on countless Tennessee residents cannot fully be understood yet, as the latency period for mesothelioma is typically between 20 and 50 years. Doctors and scientists at the state’s cancer facilities continue to research potential cures and treatments for all asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis and lung cancer.
Because of the negligence of many manufacturing and industrial companies, potential lawsuits and legal action may still be pursued. Attorneys assisting clients in filing claims against employers may help mesothelioma patients and others recoup burdensome medical costs. State and federal health agencies continue to address the health risks of exposure to asbestos fibers as natural disasters reveal how much asbestos still exists in residential and commercial buildings.
Environmental Areas at Risk
Chattanooga and surrounding areas
In April 2011, a large EF5 tornado swept through the heavy populated areas of seven states, including Tennessee, killing a total of more than 300 people and destroying entire neighborhoods of homes and local businesses. While Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was hit the hardest, the damage caused by the storm posed health risks to Tennessee’s residents who were left with large amounts of debris to clean up and homes to rebuild. Because asbestos materials were widely used in residential and commercial buildings in Tennessee until the 1980s, health officials said there was a high chance that asbestos was present in the wreckage. Exposure to asbestos in Tennessee and the other states hit by the tornado goes beyond the fibers present in the debris. As no laws dictate how asbestos should be removed and disposed from single-family homes that were damaged from natural disasters, residents are concerned about the risk of inhaling airborne fibers as homeowners begin the rebuilding process.
In May 2010, a devastating flood ran through Nashville and other small towns in central Tennessee, damaging more than 11,000 properties. The Nashville Mayor’s Office Recovery Team urged homeowners to take precautions when removing flood debris and repairing or rebuilding damaged homes because asbestos materials were likely present in homes and other buildings constructed before the 1980s. The team suggested calling asbestos abatement professionals instead because the potential risk to others was so high.
Damage from 2010 Flood Closes Nashville Church Doors for Asbestos Removal
The Rose of Sharon Primitive Baptist Church in North Nashville was inundated by two feet of brackish water during the flood. After the waters receded, congregants began the recovery process. As they cleared away carpets, pews and drywall, they experienced respiratory and skin problems, so they called a halt to the renovation efforts and called the code enforcement agency, who found that the building contained asbestos and other contaminants. The church members were stunned to discover that they were handling damaged asbestos products and putting others in the neighborhood at risk, as well, since the fibers were friable and airborne. That’s when they decided to call a professional asbestos abatement service to handle the removal and disposal of the hazardous materials. It took almost a year to remove all the asbestos from the church.
The Nashville Flood Recovery Website has more information about the recovery process, which is still underway as of October 2011.
Jobsites with Known Asbestos Exposure:
- Erachem Comilog, Inc.
- Thyssen-Dover Elevator facility
- Franklin Milll (International Paper)
- Mueller Company Plant
- American Smelting and Refining Company
- Combustion Engineering