Articles Posted in Asbestos Exposure

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hardhat.jpgAccording to Wikipedia, Labor Day is:

A United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September, that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. It was first nationally recognized in 1894 to placate unionists following the Pullman Strike. With the decline in union membership, the holiday is generally viewed as a time for barbeques and the end of summer vacations.

This Labor Day, take a moment to remember the workers who were unknowingly exposed to asbestos and those who subsequently lost their lives as a result. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace.” 107,000 of them will die.

Occupational exposure or exposure at the workplace is the most common incidence of asbestos exposure. There is also secondary exposure resulting from contact with a second person, usually a spouse, parent or child that brings asbestos home on their clothes and or personal belongings. Finally, bystander exposure is exposure from a nearby location at which asbestos becomes airborne and inhaled even though the exposed person did not work directly with the asbestos or asbestos containing product.

Historically, mining trades posed the highest risk of asbestos exposure. Although asbestos is no longer mined in the United States, not all countries have stopped taking the dangerous mineral from the earth. After taking mining out of the equation, Construction trades pose the greatest risk of asbestos exposure. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), almost one-quarter of worker deaths caused by asbestosis between the years 1990-1999, were in the construction trades, by far the most dangerous industry in terms of asbestos exposure. Additionally, those in trades related to Ship and boat building and repairing, Industrial and miscellaneous chemicals, Railroads, Painters, Powerhouse workers, Floor coverers, Pot tenders, steel mill workers, Refinery workers, Paper mill workers, Tile setters, Brake and clutch manufacturers and Machinists are at considerable risk.
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Asbestos:Is it hiding in your home? It is widely known that asbestos, the toxic, naturally forming, fibrous mineral, can be found in building materials such insulation and drywall as well as brake shoes and gaskets. But you might be surprised to know where else asbestos has been… and where it is now. Did you know that asbestos has also been found in grooming bags, kitchen appliances and even a child’s toy box.

hair-styling-tools.jpgUp until the year 2000, asbestos has been used in the manufacturing of hair dryers, curling irons and even baby powder. A photographer actually discovered asbestos fibers being emitted from a blow dryer. He was not photographing the hair dryer. He was drying negatives that he had just developed and noticed a dust on the film that turned out to be asbestos. studies during that time period discovered that asbestos exposure from a hair dryer can be equal to or even greater than exposure from being a bystander to a nearby construction site. Electric curling irons as well as the holders have been manufactured using asbestos. In a curling iron, however, it is significantly less likely that the particles become air born. In the late 70s early 80s, as many as 10 out of every 19 body and baby powders tested at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York were contaminated with asbestos fibers, containing anywhere from 2% to 20%.

kitchen.jpgRefrigerators, dishwashers, stoves and ovens contain asbestos. Although the day to day use rarely creates air born debris, the installation, maintenance and repair can put the entire family (as well as the technician) at risk. Large appliances are typically repaired at home. Smaller appliances such as the Fry-Daddy, toasters, popcorn makers, slow cookers and a plethora of others also contain asbestos. The chance of asbestos being inhaled from these appliances is minimal, but considering the sheer volume of people who own one (or more), even the slightest chance of asbestos exposure should be considered UNACCPETABLE.

drawing.pngIf your child/children used Crayola, Prang or Rose Art crayons to create those adorable drawings that hung on the refrigerator (which also may have contained asbestos), they may possibly have been exposed to asbestos. It was not until the year 2001 that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) determined that the risk, although low, was sufficient to require the manufacturers to find a substitute for the asbestos. In 2007 Planet Toy’s popular CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Fingerprint Examination Kit was determined to be asbestos-containing. Planet Toy’s ended up filing for bankruptcy, but in 2010, the remaining parties in the pending class action litigation were finalizing a settlement that would refund the price of the toy and initiate a recall of the toy. The toy was actually found to be #1 on the list of the top 10 most dangerous toys.

In January of this year, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) posted a new report from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that detailed asbestos consumption in the United States. Many are not aware that even though the U.S. stopped producing asbestos, we continue to import it in substantial quantity. In 2012 it was estimated that we imported 1,060 metric tons of asbestos. The industry which produces chlorine and sodium hydroxide accounted for approximately 57 percent of consumption. The roofing industry accounted for 47 percent. This leaves 2 percent unaccounted for. Asbestos exposure, in any amount, is not safe. So where is that remaining 2%? (which after just a little bit of math, works out to be over 21 metric tons of asbestos per year) Nobody knows. Is it in your bathroom? Is it lurking in your kitchen? Are your children or nieces and nephews innocently playing with it after you have taken special care to steer them away the typical hazards of sharp or hot objects and electrical current?
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Ever since Canada turned its Jeffrey Asbestos Mine into a virtual Mars, the question has been out there as to who will continue to export and promote the use of the potentially lethal mineral asbestos. Early last month, that question was answered when Russia, the world’s leading exporter, along with Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, India and Vietnam blocked the move to list chrysotile asbestos (also known as white asbestos) under a UN convention that requires member countries to decide whether they wish to take the risk of importing the hazardous substances. At a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, the opposition ignored the lives it may save and argued that it would increase shipping and insurance costs.

For years, the fight has been waged to include chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent. Countries would have the right to be advised of the dangers of the product being imported. They would be required to give their consent, in writing, for the acceptance of both the asbestos or asbestos containing product and the risk that is being imported with it. Supporters of its inclusion say that this may save some of the nearly 110,000 people that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate will die from an asbestos related disease each year. The opposition says the price is too high.

In 2011, Canada stood nearly alone (supported only by the Ukraine) in its efforts to keep chrysotile asbestos off “the list”. Now, in Canada’s absence, powerful industry has joined together and taken a seat at the table. Dollars rather than sense are what were served.
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Caution_blank.pngThis product contains ASBESTOS which is known to cause cancer and lung disease. Avoid creating dust. Intentionally removing or tampering with this label is a violation of state law.

That is the minimum that must be stated in the warning label that must be applied to ALL asbestos containing building materials.

Earlier this month, legislators in Washington State House of Representatives passed a law requiring that all products containing asbestos meant to be sold in the United States must be clearly labeled.

Additionally, a bill proposed by Washington State Senators Biling, Ranker, Kohl-Welles, and Kline was also passed 65 – 28. The bill requires that:

A label must be placed in a prominent location adjacent to the product name or description on the exterior of the wrapping and packaging in which the asbestos-containing building material is placed for storage, shipment, and sale.

Effective January 1, 2014, the appropriate labels must be affixed to the designated products. Failure to comply will, at first, likely only result in a warning and the chance to rectify the problem. Subsequent infractions may result in up to a $10,000 .00 fine.

Many consumers are unaware that asbestos containing products are still a major part of the construction industry. Although asbestos is no longer mined in the United States, asbestos is imported, sold and widely used. Asbestos can be found in nearly 3,000 products such as roofing shingles, tiles and siding, spackles and joint compounds, plaster, flooring and insulation…and many more.

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that, when made airborne and then inhaled, become toxic. Warning the consumer and any subsequent users of the potential hazards should not only be the law…It should be considered common sense. Every year tens of thousands of people are afflicted with and die from asbestos related diseases. These include (but are not limited to) malignancies of the respiratory and digestive systems as well as non-malignant diseases. The respiratory system malignancies include cancers of the throat (laryngeal & pharyngeal), the lung, and mesothelioma. Malignancies of the digestive system include cancers of the stomach and colon. Non-malignant asbestos related conditions include asbestosis and pleural disease. By 2029, approximately a half million asbestos related deaths (preventable deaths) are anticipated in the United States alone.
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Thumbnail image for illegal dumping_farm-debris_photoblog600.jpgThe act of illegally dumping asbestos has been taking place since the moment certain laws and regulations were enacted and implemented prohibiting the reckless endangerment of innocent bystanders to this potentially toxic and lethal substance.

The Ohio EPA continues to search for the individual or individuals who, in November of 2012, dumped a large amount of asbestos containing pipe insulation on a vacant residential property. The property sits just west of Nature Conservancy property. The piping was most likely part of an old heating system and the illegal dumpers were most likely ignorant thieves looking for scrap metal to sell.

In October of 2012, two New Jersey men dumped 60,000 pounds of asbestos containing debris on an upstate New York farm, a farm that also has wetlands and runs along a river. The owner of the unoccupied land ignored both state and federal laws when he dumped the rubbish that was put through an industrial shredding machine without the asbestos first being removed. When authorities arrived to inspect the site, the dump pile was topped by two children’s bicycles, evidence that the toxic waste was being used a playground. Moreover, it was the owner’s intentions to eventually develop this asbestos laden land into commercial riverfront property.

In mid-2012, an Illinois man was sentenced to ten years for the illegal removal, handling and disposal of asbestos from a Kankakee building. A jury determined that in order to put a few more dollars in his pocket, he completely disregarded the laws put in place to protect the general public from the hazards of asbestos. He stripped dry asbestos from pipes, shoved it in regular unlabeled garbage bags, then proceeded to hap-hazardly dump the over one hundred contaminated bags into an open field. Additionally, the man was also ordered to pay restitution of $47,086 to the EPA for the cleanup of the asbestos
On an international level, Sydney Australia can finally end its hunt for a truck driver that dumped nearly two tonnes of asbestos outside two children’s care centers (pre-schools). It required over $13,000 and three months of clean-up and investigation to locate Dib Hanna. Despite several years of illegal dumping including deadly asbestos, multiple fines and convictions, Hanna was only handed a three month suspended sentence. He was actually quoted as saying “You said last time, you send me to jail. I go home and I keep going my business,” This is hardly the deterrent to future Aussie asbestos dumpers one might have hoped for.

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. They have been used commercially in a multitude of products for their heat resistant quality and inexpensive price tag. However, when the fibers become airborne and then inhaled they can be toxic and potentially lethal. Asbestos exposure has been known to cause both malignant and non-malignant disease. The above examples of human stupidity are demonstrative of one of the reasons why regulations and legislation are not sufficient to protect the public from the dangers of asbestos.
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BONDEX.jpgBondex was a joint compound created and marketed by the Reardon Company. The bonding agent / joint compound was used on both commercial and residential projects. Because of the success of the product, in 1969 The Reardon Company (amongst quite a few other up-and-coming companies) was acquired by RPM International. Bondex contained asbestos – CHRYSOTILE ASBESTOS to be exact – and even after the dangers of asbestos were known, RPM International continued to manufacture and market the product. In late May of 2010 a press release announced that Bondex filed chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of the pending and anticipated asbestos claims.

Chrysotile_Asbestos.pngChrysotile asbestos is also known as “white” asbestos and makes up nearly 95% of the asbestos found in the United States today. It is a naturally occurring fibrous group of minerals resistant to heat and are excellent thermal, electrical and acoustic insulators.

There are actually six types of asbestos: Serpentine, Amphibole, Amosite, Crocidolite and Chrysotile. The debate has been which type of asbestos is more toxic. All types of asbestos fibers are known to cause serious health hazards in humans. While it is agreed that amosite and crocidolite are the most hazardous asbestos fiber types, chrysotile asbestos has produced tumors in animals and is a recognized cause of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma in humans.

During an asbestos estimation trail, Bondex put forth an expert witness that testified that Chrysotile joint compound is not likely to cause mesothelioma. Dr. Allan Feingold, a lung specialist in Miami, went to bat for the debtors. Fiengold testified that it [chrysotile] is “much less likely” to stay in the mesothelium, or the lining of the lungs, than other forms of asbestos, such as amphibole asbestos.. He later admitted that he worked only with a small sampling of 229 mesothelioma sufferers and that he was never actually given access to the lung tissue samples of those claimants. Instead, Feingold admitted that all he had to go by was the information that he was given.

Of course, Plaintiffs marched their own expert onto the witness stand who did not hesitate to testify that there is no question that Chrysotile exposure leads to cancer of the lining of the lung. After recapping her own studies she concluded that at this point – the link between Chrysotile asbestos and mesothelioma – “has been very well established”

There are two undisputed facts and that is that there are over 2000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year as a result of asbestos exposure. Secondly, that 95% of the asbestos found in the United States is Chrysotile asbestos. One need not be a genius statistician to do the math.
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bill.jpg New York State Congressman Bill Owens introduced legislation earlier this month (H.R. 204: Common Sense Waiver Act of 2013). This bill was a re-introduction of H.R. 3689 (112th) (Dec 15, 2011). If enacted, it would allow as follows:

… The Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency to waive any emission standard or other requirement under section 112 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7412) applicable to the control of asbestos emissions in the demolition or renovation of a condemned building for which there is a reasonable expectation of structural failure.

When translated, what this would allow is the dismissal of rules and regulations that were put in place specifically to protect the general population. What it does do is put cost cutting ahead of public health and safety for both the workers and those bystanders unfortunate enough to inhale the potentially deadly dust and debris.

This Bill was drafted in response to the need of various villages or communities to get rid of deteriorating buildings. Specifically, Owens first brought the issue up in 2011 when the former Tavern Arms, also known as Nikki’s Place, collapsed in on itself in downtown Malone, NY. Current regulations basically offer no provisions when a town or village is unable to afford the repair or demolition of a building that contains asbestos. The only recourse is to “let it fall down”. This does not seem like it should be an acceptable option nor is it in the interest of public safety. However, the proposed alternative is equally without “common sense”.

Current Status of the Bill: This bill was assigned to a congressional committee on January 4, 2013, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole. The chances of it actually being enacted are minimal at best, which means that common sense may actually prevail in this matter.

Asbestos has been proven to cause non-malignant conditions such as asbestosis and pleural disease and malignancies including throat cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, laryngeal cancer, lung cancer and mesothelioma. For this reason, appropriate and necessary regulations have been implemented for the handling of asbestos and asbestos containing products. It would seem to be a LACK of common sense to dismiss those regulations in consideration of the all mighty dollar. Perhaps it would be time better spent determining how to make adhering to those regulations affordable. True common sense and the well-being of each and every individual should never be cost prohibitive.

“Common sense is seeing things as they are; and doing things as they ought to be.”
― Harriet Beecher Stowe

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uncle-sam.jpgUncle Sam, who usually has his index finger sternly pointed at “you”, must now point it in the opposite direction as the Federal Government takes responsibility for potentially exposing thousands to asbestos. It is a known fact that asbestos was commonly used in the military. Because of its resistance to fire and heat as well as its economical cost factor, asbestos found its way into the barracks, ship yards, ammunition bases, arsenals, mechanic’s garages, aviation hangars and much more. What is NOT common knowledge is the fact that some of it was left behind. 22 Acres of land, now owned by the Sunriver Owners Association, was once home to the U.S. Army’s Camp Abbott and the many military men and women who trained there. As an active U.S. Army Corps of Engineers training camp, not only was there housing or barracks on the property, but also a demolition area, grenade courts, a gas chamber, landfill and two rifle ranges. The site also had an anti-aircraft range, field target range and a submachine gun range.

Beginning in about 1944, the United States demolished most of the camp’s buildings. When the U.S. left the property, they also left asbestos containing floor tiles, siding, insulation, and other construction debris. The Sunriver Owners Association (SROA) is a not-for-profit corporation that provides quasi-governmental services to its nearly 4,000 members and maintains Sunriver’s 65 miles of roads, 33 miles of pathways, two (2) aquatic facilities, three (3) parks, twenty-six (26) tennis courts and 1,000 acres of common area. Sunriver began building the residential project in 1968, but did not discover the asbestos containing materials until 2002. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) prepared a detailed report of the Environmental Cleanup Site Information that includes how the site was formerly used, areas of concern and contamination information as well as other facts of interest.

The U.S. government has now agreed to pay $500,000.00 to help recover the costs of asbestos removal. This contribution considerably reduces the once estimated 3.2 million dollar price tag of the clean-up. Additionally, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality agreed to put a “CAP” on the contaminated soil by building the Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center. The center itself actually acts as a cap on the contaminated soil. The construction plans include at least two feet of clean soil that completely cover the affected area as well as a three to four inch thick concrete or asphalt base of sufficient dimension as to prevent the escape of any asbestos dust or particles.

4,000 Sunriver residents can literally breathe a little easier. They will be enjoying a new clubhouse complete with pool and rec center instead of the old dumping ground for asbestos waste.
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What do the following Florida locations all have in common?

Asbestos. Each of these Florida locations are in the midst of some asbestos related complication.

Gifford Gardens Apartment Complex Gifford, FL: The decision was made to demolish this vacant 55-unit complex. In its currently uninhabitable state, it has become a haven for criminals and so it makes perfect sense to break out the wrecking ball and rid ourselves of this eyesore. However, the ceiling plaster that was used to construct the building contains asbestos. Now, before the wrecking ball can do its thing, a crew specially trained in asbestos removal must come in. They must remove the asbestos following very specific safety guidelines. This will no doubt be performed at a considerable expense.

University of Florida – Medical Science Building Gainesville, FL: The first floor of the Department of Ophthalmology Visual Science Lab and the ground floor’s morgue, autopsy suite and Department of Physiology labs had to be closed until filters could be installed in the affected areas. Routine air tests conducted during what was considered “low-risk” asbestos removal indicated that asbestos levels were higher than federal guidelines allow. Although UF officials report that no “patient areas” were affected, there does not seems to be an accounting of those individuals who may have been exposed in those areas that WERE effected.

Rainbow Springs Gift Shop
Dunnellon, FL: After a small fire in a Florida State Park visitor’s center, asbestos was discovered in ceiling and floor material. This means that the re-opening of the facility will be delayed several months. The cost of repair will increase and will have to include removal of ceiling tiles, portions of flooring treatment and debris then the subsequent removal of residual asbestos. During this entire time, special tests must be performed and state mandated regulations must be followed.

New Ocala Fire Station Ocala, FL: Plans for a new fire station just south of Tuscawilla Park experienced a small hiccup. Five buildings sit on the property purchased for the new establishment. The city had plans to auction off the structures, but those plans were halted when asbestos was found. Now the city has been forced to seek out estimates from companies certified to handle asbestos for the removal and/or demolition of the buildings.

Daytona Main Street Pier Daytona Beach, FL: What has often been referred to as “The Main Street Pier” has finally re-opened after being closed in 2009. After decades of wear and tear and deterioration, and then Hurricane Floyd, approximately $10 million of repairs and upgrades had to be done. Asbestos clean-out had to be performed before the new Ocean Center Convention Center, a Hilton Hotel, the Ocean Walk Shoppes and restaurant Joe’s Crab Shack could call this once popular Daytona Tourist magnet home.

The “Old” Amway Arena Orlando, FL: With the new Amway Center completed in 2010, something had to be done with the “old” building now that the Orlando Magic took up residence elsewhere. Demolition was inevitable. As the structure imploded, large quantities of debris, dust and chemicals became airborne. Spectators nearly two blocks away were showered with remains of the structure. Neighboring residents voiced a serious concern regarding exposure to hazards such as asbestos. The City official assured the community that “proper asbestos removal” took place prior to implosion – but did not mention to what extent or at what cost.

Broward County Courthouse Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Current and former employees of a Florida County Courthouse are bringing suit against the county alleging that the 50-year-old structure contains loose asbestos as well as other toxins. In addition to the employees of the building (including the 19 that have filed suit), the lawsuits states that thousands of individuals enter the courthouse every day. Broward County commissions acknowledge that the courthouse has issues. They agreed in 2009 to replace the potentially hazardous building with a new $328 million courthouse. The completion of that particular promise has yet to see fruition.

There are approximately 25,000 asbestos removal jobs of varying degrees of complexity in the state of Florida every year. It costs between $25 and $50 per square foot to remove. The United States spends about $3 billion a year on Asbestos removal and we have spent a staggering $50 billion over the past 20 years. Nearly 10,000 people die from asbestos related diseases every year; over 2,500 suffering from Mesothelioma. With these jaw-dropping statistics at hand, one is left to wonder …why do we continue to import and use asbestos containing products? It is true that OSHA and the EPA have implemented safety guidelines and regulations designed to protect people from asbestos exposure. Moreover, there are sufficient studies that demonstrate that asbestos left undisturbed (not airborne) is not harmful. But the problem is that we can’t always control when asbestos becomes airborne (and when we can it comes with a hefty price tag). What good are guidelines when natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes send homes and buildings crumbling from the very foundations on which they were built? What good are material safety data sheets when tragedies such as 9/11 pulverize our tallest buildings; contaminating the air we breathe for miles. Who can control the natural deterioration of any structure? Man-made buildings, regardless of quality at the time of construction, are impermanent at best. If we continue to use asbestos in building materials, today’s new construction will always just be tomorrow’s asbestos abatement project…or worse; the cause of an innocent person’s death; the cause of 10,000 innocent persons deaths per year. USA Today has published an article “When removing Asbestos Makes No Sense“. One could reasonably argue that continuing to use it makes even less sense.
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exxon_valdez best.jpgMarch 24th 1989, the Exxon Valdez plowed; bow first, into the rocks of Alaska’s Prince William Sound. More than eleven million (11,000,000.00) gallons of crude oil polluted the water before the spill could be contained. Now the dismantling of the vessel threatens to pollute the air with toxic asbestos.

Since her original accident, the tanker was repaired and sent to Europe; underwent several subsequent name changes; became an ore carrier named Dong Fang Ocean that collided with a cargo ship; underwent additional repairs and another name change and finally, with the name Oriental Nicety, has been sold for scrap in India where she waits off the coast to be demolished by the ship breakers at the Alang Shipyard – perhaps re-purposed once again.

Like most ships built during the time of the ex-Exxon Valdez, the ship was constructed using asbestos. The average ship contained several tons of asbestos insulation in the engine room, along the miles of pipe aboard and in the walls and doors that required fireproofing. Generators, boilers and turbines required to power the vessel were all constructed and insulated with asbestos.

Although environmentalists acknowledge that it is likely no MORE toxic than so many other ships recycled at Alang, a petition has been filed with the High Court in the western state of Gujarat to block the entry of the ex-Exxon Valdez pending an onboard inspection for toxic chemicals including asbestos. Perhaps it is just timing or perhaps it is for the notorious reputation of the vessel and the catastrophic event with which it is associated, but many say that the Exxon Valdez is being used as a pawn in the fight for better, safer working conditions for the men working in these yards.

While in the United States we have regulations enforced by such companies as OSHA that specifically detail the required safety precautions for the demolition or salvage of structures, vessels, and vessel sections where asbestos is present; 1915.1001(a)(2), countries such as India have much more lax guidelines. Notwithstanding the minimal safety requirements of India, if the rulings are not favorable, or if the red tape of the legal system becomes intolerable, the ship may be diverted to Bangladesh or Pakistan. These countries also have similarly slack regulations for the shipyard industry, but when even these practically non-existent standards cannot be met, ships are often brought in illegally.

rupees.jpgThe Coastline is now adorned with about 175 yards that make up a large portion of this billion dollar ship-breaking industry. Alang shipyard has been in operation since 1983. It is the worlds largest ship breaking operation and has broken apart over 5,900 ships. A 2006 study commissioned by India’s Supreme Court found 16% of those ships contained asbestos. Workers typically come from very poor families, are given minimal training and even less safety gear and earn an average of 111 to 388 Indian Rupees per day which is about $2 to $7 US American dollars per day for the hazardous, sometimes lethal, work that they do. When asked why they take this risk, why they do this job, the men in the yards simply say – They need the money.
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