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Eagan Minnesota Mesothelioma and Asbestos Law Blog

More Information About The 3M Settlement, What They Knew

In late February, Minnesota manufacturing giant 3M Co. reached an $850 million settlement with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office over dumping of toxic perfluorochemicals, PFCs, that leached into the groundwater of Washington County. The settlement ends a $5 billion lawsuit between 3M and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Attorney General’s office.

3M manufactured these chemicals for use in their popular Scotchguard stain repellant as well as non-stick cookware and fire extinguishers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFCs do not break down easily and can accumulate in people’s bodies. In large quantities these chemicals can disrupt the immune system and can cause birth defects, cancer and thyroid hormone disruption.

Asbestos Use May Be Back

The unimaginable may be soon be happening. Asbestos may soon be allowed back into manufacturing.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency appears to be opening the door for asbestos to be used for new uses in manufacturing. According to an early August article in Newsweek, the EPA made an announcement on June first to allow asbestos to be reintroduced under their “Significant New Use Rule” (SNUR).

Mesothelioma one of many Minnesota asbestos-related issues

In 1981, the first Minnesota asbestos litigation case was heard. Sadly, such cases have been on the rise since then, as many families have been devastated by mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-related health problems. These often occur due to asbestos exposure in the workplace.

It can take years for symptoms of mesothelioma to surface. Victims often develop lingering coughs, have trouble breathing or experience chest discomfort without knowing what is causing their conditions. Following a doctor's diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness, there are often two main priorities: obtaining palliative care (since there is no cure for such diseases) and seeking justice for damages caused by employer negligence. 

Is former steelworker's cancer related to asbestos exposure?

Many retired Minnesota factory workers can related to a man in another state who recently joined many of his former co-workers at a meeting where a discussion was had about adverse health issues the former employees believe may be connected to their steel factory work. One woman who attended the meeting with her husband said she believes his skin cancer may have been caused by asbestos exposure. The man was not the only one there suffering from a disease, and most, if not all, attended the meeting because they think they contracted their illnesses on the job.  

The steel mill where the former workers were employed played a significant role in developing the atomic bomb during the World War II era. Analysts who study health-related consequences of factory work say the experts have known for a long time that asbestos is a highly dangerous material that can cause incurable diseases, such as lung cancer and other illnesses. Thousands of people who worked at this particular steel factory have already filed legal claims regarding possible damages they suffered due to radioactive material exposure as well.  

Are Minnesota schools high risk for asbestos exposure?

Many schools in Minnesota and throughout the country were built prior to 1970. Schools erected before this time often share certain characteristics in common. For instance, someone visiting or attending such a school may notice a musty smell from time to time, a sign that the building may contain mold. Asbestos exposure is usually a risk in old school buildings as well.  

In fact, an investigation conducted in another state found that a particular school had extremely high levels of numerous toxins, including lead, asbestos and mold. This was discovered after a student was diagnosed with lead poisoning his teacher believes was caused by eating pieces of chipped paint in his classroom. The same school tested high for asbestos, which is not necessarily a problem so long as items containing asbestos are not disturbed.  

American Red Cross reaches out to asbestos exposure victims

Minnesota apartment-dwellers whose homes have popcorn ceiling will want to follow a recent case in another state where officials have ordered total evacuation of an apartment complex. The situation unfolded when an anonymous tip was reportedly filed, prompting immediate inspection regarding possible asbestos exposure in the building. Since then, all residents have been evacuated, some taking shelter provided by the American Red Cross.  

Nearby apartment buildings are inspected every six months, according to the current manager of those buildings. She says no asbestos problems have been reported in those complexes. However, a recent crisis erupted in the building in question when asbestos-laden materials were reportedly left in an open hallway during a renovation project. Many residents of the apartment are said to have been exposed to dust that had essentially drifted throughout the apartment building.  

Asbestos exposure: It can never be safe

Sadly, many people in Minnesota and across the country have lost loved ones as a result of asbestos-related illness. In fact, there are no known cures for mesothelioma, asbestosis and other illnesses that often occur due to asbestos exposure. It's not only those who worked in factories, shipyards or old school buildings who are at risk; their families and anyone regularly exposed to them while wearing clothing they wore on the job could also possibly ingest the microscopic particles that wreak havoc on human lungs, hearts and other parts of the body.  

Many employers were aware of the dangers their workers faced. However, their desires for profit and increased productivity outweighed their senses of obligation. Nowadays, employers are legally required to warn their employees of known asbestos hazards in the workplace. They must also provide proper training and equipment to help them stay safe.  

What Is “Third-Wave” Asbestos?

Even though asbestos has now been on the medical radar for decades, that does not mean that asbestos is done hurting people. Today, people are still afflicted by cancer due to asbestos exposure. Many of these recent cases are part of what is known as the “third wave” of asbestos cases.


What are PFCs?

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are man-made chemicals manufactured in Minnesota by 3M. As a result, PFCs now persist in the environment and in our bodies, and for the most part are not biodegradable. For almost 50 years, 3M's PFCs have contaminated much of the water in Washington County. Many residents of Lake Elmo, Oakdale, Woodbury, and Cottage Grove must have their drinking water filtered to remove PFCs before the water is considered safe to drink. The Minnesota Attorney General recently obtained a $850 million settlement against 3M for damages caused by PFC contamination to Minnesota's natural resources, including drinking water in Washington County.

When asbestos exposure and negligence have fatal results

Sometime around 1979, there was an apparent increase in families suffering the loss of loved ones in workplace situations. Such incidents often have to do with asbestos exposure. Many Minnesota spouses, parents and children have grieved the loss of their loved ones in situations that may have been prevented had the employers of their family members fulfilled their obligations to keep their workers safe.  

The needs and goals of every family who suffers a wrongful death experience are unique. Many have taken similar steps, however, to seek justice on the behalves of their loved ones. Many also describe feeling angry or frustrated to learn that employer negligence was a causal factor in their family members' deaths.  

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