Asbestos Found in New Mexico's PERA Building

AsbestosAs workers were going through an office suite in New Mexico’s Public Employees Retirement Association building in Santa Fe, they noticed that some of the carpet tiles they were removing had contained asbestos. The project was to install new carpet in the office, but once the asbestos was discovered, the room was sealed off. The room was located in the part of the building were the state Office of the Superintendent of Insurance was housed. The asbestos abatement project is scheduled to begin this weekend.

In an announcement last week, a spokesman for the state General Services Department claimed that the old carpet tile being replaced had a very small amount of asbestos. The five-story P.E.R.A. building is home to the insurance office, the Children Youth and Families Department, and the Public Regulation Commission. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of employees who work in the building and it could be dangerous if these individuals were exposed to the asbestos because of the material’s ability to cause cancer and mesothelioma.

The building was originally constructed in 1967, and was owned by the Public Employees Retirement Association prior to the state buying the building roughly a decade ago. The work was being performed in Suite 331, in which carpet was being replaced and walls were being painted.

Estevan Luján, the General Services Department spokesman, made the following statement,

In order for [the state Facilities Management Division] to continue with the project, the tile must be tested and all safety parameters must be in place to begin abatement. This includes segregating the entire area with negative pressure filtration that meets [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standards [and isolates airborne particles].

By planning the abatement project on the weekend, Luján wants to ensure that there are no employees around who can be exposed to asbestos. In order to ensure the safety of all building patrons, Luján is taking the proper precautions when performing this project. Meetings have taken place with employees of the building, the Facilities Management Division, state officials, and representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to discuss the abatement plan and make sure all concerns were addressed.

The question remains if anyone was exposed to the asbestos while it was still present. This could be a dangerous situation as asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled by the employees in the building. Even worse, symptoms of asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma can take years to truly show, leaving victims susceptible to the adverse effects. By this time, some may feel that it is too late to right the wrongs done to them and feel that no amount of warning is sufficient enough.

Asbestos is a common material in older buildings because it can withstand extreme temperatures and is fire retardant. This made it popular in products such as carpets, insulation, pipes, and more. Unfortunately, asbestos is also a known carcinogen and has deadly effects on those who consume the fibers. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their lives due to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers.

If you were permitted to work in an area in which asbestos is present, not informed that asbestos is present, or not provided the proper safety equipment when working in a location where asbestos is present, you may have a case. Call our mesothelioma attorneys at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC to discuss our potential lawsuit with our firm today.

This is a serious matter requiring tough advocacy. Let our firm show you why countless others have trusted us to protect their rights.

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