Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals with microscopic fibers that can accumulate in the lungs when inhaled. These fibers can cause lung cancer, lung disease, and mesothelioma. Environmental health advocates say that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
A national environmental health group in the California Bay Area has asked the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) to inspect about 400 of its cars for possible asbestos. However, BART officials have stated that their trains were found free of asbestos when they were overhauled in the early 1990s.
The Environmental Working Group, whose president, Ken Cook, lives in the Bay Area and rides BART, has been requesting these inspections after last week’s media reports that the Washington, D.C. Metro System has hundreds of rail cars containing asbestos. Rohr Inc. had manufactured the Washington cars and also had produced the original BART trains at about the same time.
Cook, in a letter to BART, wrote, “BART employees who work in the cars and the hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors who ride BART trains each day have a right to know whether they may have been exposed to asbestos.”
Alicia Trost, BART’s spokeswoman, responded that riders and employees can breathe easy. According to an SF Gate article, when BART gutted and rebuilt its 439 original rail cars between 1997 and 2005, the transit agency removed pieces of equipment that it thought might contain asbestos. Trost explained that tests showed that those pieces of equipment in fact contained no asbestos at all.
Washington Metro has issued a statement saying that 280 of its original cars, built in 1976, do contain a small amount of asbestos in a sealed mechanical area of the car.
Asbestos exposure is an avoidable risk. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-787-3700 now to speak with one of our Massachusetts asbestos law and personal injury experts.