Though the majority of cases of malignant mesothelioma in the United States have been linked to workplace exposure to asbestos, that does not mean that exposure to the carcinogen in an occupational setting is the only way that you can get the disease. There have also been many instances of people being exposed as a result of asbestos in their environment, including within the walls of their own homes in the form of asbestos-contaminated insulation in homes build prior to the 1980s. It has been estimated that there are as many as 30 million houses and residential buildings that are affected in this way, and up until now there has been no good way of determining which they are, but now a new hand-held device created by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)may hold the answer to that problem.
According to scientist Gregg Swayze, the organization has devised a spectrometer that can be quickly and easily inserted into a home’s insulation to determine whether it contains vermiculite from the Libby, Montana vermiculite mine that has been blamed for so many cases of mesothelioma. Though vermiculite is generally considered safe, and is an extremely effective insulator, the vermiculite from Libby was heavily contaminated with asbestos, and has been blamed for thousands of deaths. Aware of this problem and the widespread use of the Libby insulation product, the USGS worked to develop a way to quickly identify the chemical composition of the material and then detect it. The spectrometers do this far more easily than a laboratory can by separating the colors of light given off when a substance burns.
Though the hand-held spectrometers are estimated to cost approximately $50,000 each, that expense is offset by the ability to save lives by preventing mesothelioma. Homeowners that find that their structures contain the asbestos-contaminated insulation are eligible to receive up to $4,125 in reimbursement for the costs of its removal from the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust.
If you or someone you love has been affected by an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma, you have a right to pursue those responsible for your illness. Contact us today at 1-800-966-2244 to learn more about your legal rights, and how we can help.