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NASA employees might have been exposed to cancer-causing asbestos

Asbestos poses an enormous hazard to occupants of older buildings at which asbestos is present. Removing asbestos is especially dangerous because it is easier to inhale it in dust form. Asbestos removal activities at the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California may have exposed four workers to lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency declared the third floor of the building where the team responsible for communication with the Cassini Spacecraft mission is located unsafe due to an asbestos abatement project.

Building 230 is reportedly one of 11 buildings in the complex that needs asbestos removal. Some employees had to continue working during construction, and barriers were installed to protect them from the dangerous asbestos dust. However, air sample readings indicated asbestos presence beyond the barriers at levels exceeding the EPA's recommended safety levels. That floor was evacuated, and workers were accommodated in safe areas.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are lung cancers that can be caused by exposure to asbestos. The fibers that are inhaled remain in the lungs of an exposed worker, causing the accumulation of collagen and limiting the body's ability to suppress tumors. According to safety regulations by the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, all employers whose workers are exposed to asbestos must observe the recommended levels and ensure those who were exposed to higher levels receive medical surveillance.

California workers who have been exposed to asbestos hazards may not immediately be aware of any health damage. Lung cancer can take years to develop, and establishing when and where it was caused can be difficult. The worker may not even be in that company's employ any longer. For this reason, pursuing workers' compensation benefits may be best handled by an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can navigate the proceedings to obtain all the available benefits.

Source: pasadenastarnews.com, "JPL construction may have exposed some employees to asbestos", Jason Henry, Dec. 14, 2015

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