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Students tell judge of asbestos exposure

We have discussed this case before, as it is one of the more egregious examples the danger presented by the existences of asbestos in buildings, homes, and other sites throughout California.

This incident involved high school students who were part of a job-training program. However, the "training" involved removing materials from buildings at the Castle Commerce Center. The students were apparently given no information on the nature of what it was they were removing, but as many as 68 people were exposed to asbestos contaminated debris on the site.

Last week, some of the former students appeared in federal court to testify concerning the work conditions inside the buildings. They stated the demolition produced a "fog-like cloud" within the building. One student said that they looked like they had white hair when they left the building because of the concentration of the dust.

The students inhaled the asbestos dust into their noses and mouths and one student now reports frequent nosebleeds and chest pains. He worries he may not live long enough to have children or see them become adults.

The three men who ran the business that exposed the students to asbestos have all pled guilty and, under a plea agreement, could see two years in prison. That punishment pales next to the potential death sentence all of the students face.

They must live with the uncertainty; they know they were exposed to asbestos dust, but they cannot know if the exposure will cause an asbestos-related illness, like asbestosis or mesothelioma until it is too late.

Restitution could include medical monitoring, which would cost millions of dollars for the next 30 or 40 years. Even with that, they never know when the next cough they develop will be a harbinger of mesothelioma. 

Source: ced Sun-Star, "Asbestos exposure victims in Firm Build case speak in court," Victor Patton, December 20, 2013

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