Expert witnesses with specializations in industrial hygiene, mold, and material science opine on a case involving a man’s claim that workplace asbestos traveled home on his clothing and harmed his family. The plaintiff claims that his workplace exposure to gasket and packing materials in valves and pumps created a risk of developing asbestos-related disease to himself, bystanders and family members, including his two children. The plaintiff filed a negligence action against numerous suppliers and manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- What is the potential for workplace exposure to asbestos in jobs requiring work with valves and pumps?
Expert Witness Response
The chrysotile asbestos found in gaskets and packing is considered encapsulated. It is bound up with additives that minimize the release of any fibers. In this condition it can be considered non-hazardous. Even during the mechanical abrasion activities sometimes used during the removal of the gaskets and packing materials, the release is not significant. Using normal work place procedures during the installation, removal or replacement of gaskets and packing associated with defendant valves or pumps, and if these materials contained asbestos, the possible asbestos exposure would be similar to the results found in actual industrial hygiene workplace air monitoring surveys I conducted and other industrial hygiene reports I have reviewed. The workplace surveys were designed to monitor bystander exposure, and no detectable fibers were found.
Based upon these actual workplace removal surveys, it is my opinion that exposure levels (if any) to gaskets and packing would be at or below 0.01 fibers per cubic centimeter as an 8-hour Time Weighted Average, which is less than 10% of the current permissible exposure limit in the OSHA standard for asbestos and qualify as a Negative Exposure Assessment under the current standard. At these low levels, there is not, nor has there ever been, an OSHA requirement that warnings and precaution labels be placed on the products or their packaging. Numerous studies have shown the same results.
Serving in the US Navy could result in significant exposures from the insulation products that would have been, more likely than not, asbestos-containing. These thermal asbestos insulation products have the potential to release significant fibers.
Based upon materials I have reviewed and my experience in this field, I conclude to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that alleged exposures to gaskets and packing materials that plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ witnesses may have associated with the defendant, even if they occurred, would not have presented any increased risk of harm to workers, bystanders or family members.
The expert is a certified industrial hygienist who has provided consulting services for more than 25 years.