A Tragedy Decades in the Making

mine with heavy equipment

The list of industries where employees may experience asbestos exposure is well known. Auto mechanics, HVAC technicians, construction workers, cement plant employees, chemical plant staff members are but a few of the risky professions where being in proximity to toxic material can result in a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Sadly, the list continues to grow.

The So-Called “Miracle Mineral” Finds More Victims

Recently, another seemingly unlikely profession joined the list. According to New York transit officials, their staff at MTA’s Brooklyn-based bus depot may have suffered asbestos exposure. Tests showed that cloth made from asbestos-lined vents pumping pump air into the facility over the course of possibly eight decades.

The building was constructed in the late 1940s when asbestos was considered a “miracle mineral.” The cloth was necessary to dampen noise and minimize vibrations in the station. What was then believed to be “harmless” fibers filled the air for eight decades before testing revealed its presence. Employees ranged from bus drivers to administrative staff. Even more alarming was the thriving internship program that employed several dozen high school students

Exacerbating the potential tragedies exists the possibility that officials were well aware of the problem for many years, putting loyal staff members at risk of mesothelioma and other potentially fatal illnesses. By the time testing was done, the results had revealed significant levels of asbestos.

The unions have gotten involved, demanding an asbestos monitoring program to facilitate early and potentially life-saving diagnoses. For many longtime workers, the news may come too late. MTA’s reward for their loyal staff is an uncertain future, both professionally and personally.