Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Asbestos Exposure at Job Sites in Michigan

Michigan Mesothelioma Lawyer: Michigan was the heart of the auto industry for most of the 20th century – and the automobile is a product that has contained numerous asbestos materials. Even today, certain gasket materials, as well as brake linings, contain asbestos.

Thus it is not surprising that the Ford Motor plant in Ecorse is just one of many auto industry job sites that have been identified as a Michigan asbestos exposure location.

Asbestos exposure in Michigan may have been an occupational hazard for many of the state’s workers in the auto industry. Some were unknowingly exposed on the job to asbestos and now suffer from such life-threatening diseases as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Suit Alleges On-the Job Asbestos Exposure

Consider the asbestos-related lawsuit filed by a Michigan woman, Marsha K. Ayer. Her complaint alleges that 38 companies were responsible for the asbestos exposure that caused the lung cancer death of her next-of-kin, Gary Ayer. The Madison-St. Clair Record reports that Ayer worked as a line worker and powerhouse engineer at General Motors from 1972 until 2005 and as a home repairman and remodeler from the 1960s until the 1970s. The suit states that the defendants failed to exercise reasonable care for Ayer’s safety and exposed him to asbestos-containing products during his career, which allegedly caused his lung disease. Ayer suffered great physical pain and mental anguish as a result of his illness; his condition also resulted in significant medical costs.

Ayer’s case is a cautionary tale for Michigan workers. However, the auto industry wasn’t the only one that may have exposed its workers to asbestos in Michigan.

Other Michigan Job Sites and Asbestos Exposure

Chemical plants such as Lakeway Chemical in Muskegon have also been known to use asbestos materials because asbestos is resistant to most corrosive chemical substances.

Most of the asbestos used in chemical labs is of the “blue” crocidolite variety. This is a particularly deadly form of amphibole asbestos; the fibers resemble microscopic needles that burrow their way straight through the lung tissue from the inside out. On the way, they interact with the DNA of cells in ways that medical researchers are only beginning to understand, causing the cells to mutate and become malignant.

Michigan also has a strong maritime heritage that includes shipbuilding and marine repair facilities since the state is surrounded by the Great Lakes. However, such job sites have often been associated with asbestos exposure. According to a study carried out at the National Cancer Institute, shipyard workers employed prior to 1980 run a significantly elevated risk of developing asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis or a form of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma,

Asbestos Exposure Sites in Michigan

Following is a list of some of the job sites from the state of Michigan where workers were potentially and unnecessarily exposed to asbestos and put at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer: Bay City Power Plant, Defoe Shipyard, Cooks Nuclear Power Plant; Ford Motor Company; Lakeside Refining; Lakeway Chemical; Marathon Oil; McLeod Steel; Sunoil Refinery.

While many of these Michigan asbestos exposure sites have taken steps to keep their employees and visitors safe since the problem was discovered, people who worked in or visited these areas in the past may still have been exposed to asbestos. Individuals who lived or worked near these areas or other known asbestos exposure sites in Michigan should be checked regularly for signs of mesothelioma and should contact a Michigan mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after a diagnosis in order to file any lawsuits within the state’s statute of limitations.

Naturally Occurring Asbestos Exposure in Michigan

Michigan also possesses natural asbestos deposits, which are located in the state’s Upper Peninsula. This is a heavily forested and geologically rugged area; the Porcupine Mountains have been identified by geologists as the oldest mountain range in North America.

Five of these asbestos deposits are around the towns of Marquette, Negaunee and Ishpeming; these deposits contain both amphibole and chrysotile (serpentine) forms of asbestos. Additional serpentine and amphibole deposits exist south of this area, around the Norway/Niagara/Iron Mountain area. Further south of this was an asbestos mining operation that has long since shut down.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry maps also indicate a chrysotile deposit near the town of L’Anse as well as an amphibole formation west of Copper City and Allouez.