New Jersey Asbestos Regulations: Understanding Health Impacts
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Nov 10, 2022
By Christopher M. Placitella Esq. and Dr. Alan Goldberg M.D.
Asbestos is a dangerous but common material that can lead to serious illnesses like mesothelioma. Because of the grave health risks associated with asbestos, state and federal governments have adopted strict policies to control exposure to asbestos.
New Jersey asbestos regulations are no different. There are several important laws in place that intend to mitigate the impact of this toxic mineral and protect those who need to handle it.
History of New Jersey Asbestos Safety Compliance Laws
In the United States and New Jersey, asbestos laws primarily focus on exposure limits as well as rules for asbestos removal.
Asbestos Safety Compliance Laws in New Jersey: Then and Now
Asbestos was incredibly popular until the early 1970s when knowledge about the toxic effects of this mineral began to spread. While the United States has not completely banned the use of asbestos, there are significant limits on its use, especially in the workplace.
In 1972, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a standard that establishes asbestos exposure limits for employees. OSHA’s 1986 Hazard Communication Standard also requires employers to notify employees of the risks of asbestos exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) further limited the use of asbestos in the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
In New Jersey, the Asbestos Control and Licensing Act (ACLA) controls the removal and use of asbestos. Under this law, asbestos-containing material refers to any building or equipment material that has more than 1 percent asbestos.
Safety Regulations That Outline the Safe Removal of Asbestos in New Jersey
New Jersey asbestos removal companies must carry special licenses. Additionally, workers who perform asbestos remediation must have a state-issued performance identification permit.
Asbestos abatement workers must also have the proper tools and personal protection equipment (PPE). According to Section 5.23-8.15 of the New Jersey Administrative Code, every contractor must have:
- Protective clothing that is either disposable or easy to clean;
- Respirator equipment with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that is capable of filtering asbestos fiber at 99.97 percent efficiency;
- Polyethylene bags that are at least six millimeters thick and of sufficient size for their intended use;
- Tools like tape, spray-on adhesives, glue, and glove bags that are of sufficiently high quality;
- Available shower stalls and sufficient plumbing, or a portable decontamination trailer; and
- Adequate ladders, scaffolds, and lighting to complete the abatement project.
The Regulatory Agencies Responsible for Asbestos in New Jersey
Several agencies are responsible for asbestos regulation in New Jersey:
- The New Jersey Department of Health provides training and accreditation for asbestos abatement providers and enforces occupational health regulations.
- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection regulates and investigates the transportation and disposal of asbestos-containing materials.
- The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development issues licenses and permits, enforces the ACLA, and inspects asbestos in schools, businesses, residences, and other buildings.
- The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs certifies asbestos safety technicians, investigates complaints, and oversees certain asbestos abatement projects.
The Impacts of Asbestos on Health
Individuals harmed by asbestos and other hazardous pollutants may be entitled to pursue a claim for their injuries. If you suffer from an asbestos-related illness, you may have a potential claim against your employer, a contractor, a property owner, a manufacturer, or another party responsible for the exposure. Before you pursue litigation, you should know how asbestos could impact your body and cause injury.
What Is Asbestos, and Where Is It Found?
Asbestos is a group of minerals that naturally occur in rocks and soil. It is resistant to heat and corrosion, and its needle-like fibers are very strong. Therefore, asbestos is a popular material for a range of products.
Below are just a few of the materials in which you may find asbestos:
- Heat-resistant fabrics
- Roofing shingles
- Wall insulation
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Oil and coal furnaces
- Car clutches and brakes
- Pipes with asbestos coating
- Attic insulation
Asbestos-containing material is more common than you think. Many places contained and still contain asbestos, including schools, workplaces, and apartment buildings. As a result of its widespread use, individuals continue to file lawsuits for asbestos-related illnesses—a fate that the insurance industry predicted.
The Health Impacts of Asbestos Exposure
While exposure limit regulations may protect people from asbestos-related illnesses, not everyone follows the rules.
Prolonged asbestos exposure can lead to serious diseases. Asbestos fibers are small and needle-like and can become stuck in the lungs. Over time, scar tissue and malignant tumors can develop.
Below are only some of the health impacts of asbestos exposure:
- Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a rare, often deadly cancer. It affects the membranes that cover the lung and chest cavity, the abdominal cavity, and other internal organs like the heart. Mesothelioma can develop twenty to sixty years after asbestos exposure.
- Lung Cancer: Asbestos exposure may also lead to lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Because asbestos fiber can travel into the lungs, exposure can increase the risk of this dangerous disease.
- Asbestosis: This chronic lung disease involves the buildup of scar tissue due to asbestos fiber. You can develop asbestosis after inhaling asbestos over a long period of time. Symptoms of this condition may not appear for decades after asbestos exposure.
What Is Involved in Asbestos Removal?
Under Section 5.23-8.15 of the New Jersey Administrative Code, all asbestos abatement workers must have the right tools and PPE. They must also have the appropriate licenses and permits. A certified asbestos safety technician must be present at every work site.
To prevent contamination, contractors need to keep a personnel log. Workers cannot eat, drink, or smoke during asbestos work. The contractor must shut down all systems in the work area, including electrical, heating, ventilating, and cooling. Proper ventilation is necessary to ensure high indoor air quality.
After an asbestos abatement project is complete, the workers must dispose of their clothing, clean any equipment, take a shower, and safely remove asbestos waste. Every asbestos removal work area must include a decontamination chamber for proper industrial hygiene.
How an Attorney Can Help You If You Were Exposed to Asbestos in New Jersey
Asbestos can have damaging long-term health effects that can change your entire life. If you develop an asbestos-related illness, you may qualify for legal action. In these situations, seeking the help of an experienced New Jersey attorney is important.
The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney for Help Navigating Asbestos Exposures in New Jersey
There are several benefits to hiring an attorney to represent your asbestos exposure lawsuit:
- Many victims do not know where they encountered asbestos. An attorney can conduct a full investigation into your case and determine where the exposure occurred.
- It can be difficult to pursue a lawsuit and battle a serious illness at the same time. Your asbestos exposure lawyer will take care of every aspect of your case so that you can focus on treatment.
- It’s easy to make mistakes when filing a lawsuit. Your lawyer will have significant experience handling these cases and can help you avoid common errors that could hurt your claim.
- You want to recover the full value of your damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Your attorney can calculate your settlement and advocate for your highest possible award.
- Asbestos lawsuits often require significant medical evidence and scientific input. Your attorney will have access to experts and resources that they can leverage to prove your case.
Who Should Consider Hiring an Attorney for Help Understanding Asbestos Exposures in New Jersey?
If you received a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma, you should consider hiring an attorney. In New Jersey, you only have two years from the date of your diagnosis to file a lawsuit. It is critical to seek legal representation immediately after your diagnosis, even if you are unsure of the source of the exposure.
What to Look For in an Attorney for Help Understanding Asbestos Exposures in New Jersey
If you are looking for an attorney for your asbestos lawsuit, you need someone with the right experience. A lawyer who has represented asbestos victims in the past will have the skills, resources, and knowledge necessary to guide you through litigation.
You’ll also want to look for a history of successful case results. While each case is unique, and successful settlements and verdicts are not an indication of an outcome in your case, they reflect a lawyer’s experience in investigating and proving their clients’ asbestos injury cases.
Finally, you want an attorney who makes you feel comfortable. During your consultation, ask the lawyer about their working style and what you can expect in your lawsuit. If your attorney answers in a way that is clear, honest, and meets your expectations, they may be the right choice for your case.
Were You Impacted by an Asbestos Exposure?
New Jersey’s asbestos regulations can help prevent exposure, but they do not protect everyone. If you came into contact with asbestos and later developed a serious disease, you deserve justice.
Do you have questions about asbestos exposures? The law offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth can help you with understanding New Jersey’s specific laws. Contact us at (215) 567-3500 today for an initial case evaluation.