Houston’s Maxwell House Building and Asbestos

by Terry Bryant

Asbestos-related mesothelioma cancers continue to afflict hundreds of thousands of Americans, even though asbestos was removed from general public use decades ago. Today, it’s the cleanup of this carcinogenic substance, used in the past as a commercial insulation substance, which continues to devastate the lives of many.

Today, we welcome the restoration of classic buildings throughout Houston as we embrace our historic past. Sadly, when contractors cut corners on safety – especially surrounding the removal of old materials, including asbestos insulation – it could be a virtual death sentence by mesothelioma for those who work at the site. It could also, conceivably, affect some future occupants of these revived structures.

Even minor past exposure to asbestos at the old Maxwell House Coffee Plant, which sits on 18 acres at 3900 Harrisburg Boulevard in Houston’s East End, could lead to workers’ becoming victims of mesothelioma and other lung diseases. Those who worked at or lived near the Maxwell House Coffee Plant in Houston anywhere from 10 to 40 years ago could now exhibit symptoms of mesothelioma. In some cases, even family members could become sick – as a result of asbestos making its way home (e.g. on a worker’s clothing).

The Mesothelioma Problem Took 100 Years to Fester

In the 1970s – after overwhelming evidence indicated the pernicious health risks of toxic asbestos fibers in structures and consumer products dating back to the turn of the 20th century – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began banning asbestos from buildings and many consumer products. The EPA also ordered its removal, “as able,” from buildings, ships, factories, petrochemical plants, and other industrial structures, schools, and office buildings. As the 1980s unfolded, asbestos also continued to disappear from manufactured products, but not completely.

Mesothelioma gets its name from the thin layer of tissue (known as the mesothelium) which covers many of our internal organs. The most common area affected by this disease is the lining of the lungs and chest wall. More than 80% of mesothelioma cases are caused by exposure to toxic asbestos fibers; the greater the exposure, the higher the risk. In 2013, it was determined that around 125 million people had been exposed to asbestos at work.

Asbestos is still also found in some products sold in the U.S. Many products are imported from other countries, such as:

  • Vehicle parts
  • Products which contain talc
  • Fire safety products
  • Science lab equipment
  • Fertilizer
  • Construction materials.

Though asbestos can be found in a lot of occupational environments, the five most affected job types that correlate to asbestos-related mesothelioma are:

  • Construction worker
  • Firefighter
  • Industrial worker
  • Power plant worker
  • Shipyard worker.

Workers (and their Families) Paying for Lack of Asbestos Safety Equipment

Patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or another form of asbestos cancer routinely say that they were not given any warning, training, or respiratory protective gear when handling, installing, loading, repairing, or removing asbestos-containing products.

Family members of those exposed to asbestos second hand are also at risk because the microscopic fibers of this element can invade their homes from their family members’ clothing and body. Over time, the build-up in any confined space, such as a home, can make it impossible for family members to avoid these cancer-causing fibers.

Mesothelioma is a fatal disease. According to the American Cancer Society, for those who are diagnosed with stage 4 (metastatic) mesothelioma, their average survival rate ranges from four to 18 months.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another form of asbestos-related cancer, you need to act quickly. Similarly, if your doctors are concerned about your health given your work history and are considering sending you for a biopsy, now is the time to consider legal help. There are several trust funds established by the courts which can pay for the injuries you suffered as a result of asbestos exposure, and this can help ensure your family is taken care of.  Contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law today by phone or webform.