Several months ago, we discussed the concern that San Diego firefighters expressed after discovering they were being exposed to asbestos inside their Fire Training Academy. Now, hundreds of firefighters and fire department employees have filed a negligence claim against San Diego.
The issue gained notoriety after an investigation showed the city had known the training facility was contaminated yet allowed first responder training to continue at the location. Unfortunately, during a renovation, many city employees began to feel ill, ultimately exhibiting symptoms associated with poor air quality. The report noted that there was a dramatic decline in air quality and widespread dust throughout the work areas during construction.
The lawsuit claims that the city of San Diego prioritized budget concerns over the health and safety of hundreds of first responders and their families. In addition, the suit notes that when measurable amounts of asbestos were discovered, the firefighters were moved to another building that was known to be asbestos-contaminated – the old Naval Training Center.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen the ingestion or inhalation of which has been linked to numerous conditions such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The widespread use of asbestos can be traced to its naturally heat-resistant and protective properties. Unfortunately, as the material is crushed, pulverized or otherwise deteriorates, the asbestos fibers become small enough to be taken into the human body – which can lead to devastating, fatal conditions.
While there is no safe level of exposure, people can come in contact with asbestos fibers in many ways. Primary exposure refers to the worker himself or herself who has actually touched or inhaled the toxic substance. Secondary exposure refers to individuals who might inadvertently wear contaminated clothing home or leave the jobsite with asbestos fibers on their skin or in their hair. These people might hug their significant others after a shift and physically transfer the deadly material.